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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Bless you! Your column highlighting the "Souper Bowl" helped generate more than $1.2 million for hungry and hurting people around the country -- and calls are still coming in.

More than 4,000 churches, synagogues, schools and businesses welcomed $1 donations, sent the funds directly to a soup kitchen, food bank or other helping agency, and then phoned 1-800-358-SOUP on Super Bowl Sunday to report their totals.

In 1990, 22 congregations participated in the first Souper Bowl. The explosive growth since then illustrates both the power of working in partnership with others and the exciting results of "loving God and loving our neighbors" in even the simplest ways. We hope more folks will call 1-800-358-SOUP to join in next year's effort.

Abby, again, thank you for your partnership. -- THE REV. BRAD SMITH, SOUPER BOWL COORDINATOR, COLUMBIA, S.C.

DEAR MR. SMITH: It was a pleasure to inform my readers of such a worthwhile effort. The numbers are impressive. Your effort beautifully illustrates the power of working together.

DEAR ABBY: After reading the letter titled "The 10 Worst Things to Say to an Infertile Couple," I have a message for the woman who couldn't conceive a child. She said: "Every time the results come up negative, my sister-in-law says she goes through the same grieving as someone who had lost a child."

Never, never make that remark to anyone who has lost a child. It is an insult to those grieving parents who know what it is to lose a child.

The woman who couldn't get pregnant has no idea what it is like to lose a child in death, and she is doing a very poor job of imagining. Her comparison belittles our grief and our loss, and infuriates those of us who have experienced that tragedy. -- BEREAVED IN FAIRFIELD, OHIO

DEAR BEREAVED: Anyone who reads this will verify that losing a child in death is the most heartbreaking experience a parent must endure.

DEAR ABBY: The letters about tattoos brought back some painful memories.

The first tattoos I ever saw were on a young Dutchman who had come to America after World War II. He had three tattoos on his arm -- one for each Nazi concentration camp he had managed to survive.

Years later, I went to Israel and attended a concert at the Mann auditorium. In front of me sat two very elegant, refined-looking ladies. Both were wearing white kid gloves. I can't tell you the horror I felt when I noticed that both of them had numbers peeking out over the tops of their gloves. -- JANET DIDINSKY IN MARYLAND

For everything you need to know about wedding planning, order "How to Have a Lovely Wedding." Send a business-sized, self-addressed envelope, plus check or money order for $3.95 ($4.50 in Canada) to: Dear Abby, Wedding Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, Ill. 61054-0447. (Postage is included.)

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