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by Abigail Van Buren

DEAR ABBY: Several years ago, you graciously told your readers about the Souper Bowl of Caring. Your column was a catalyst providing a great boost for this simple, but significant, effort of caring and unity.

The Souper Bowl of Caring is a grassroots movement that encourages churches and synagogues to invite parishoners to give $1 each as they leave worship the morning (or weekend) of the big game, Jan. 30. Youth stationed at sanctuary exits collect the dollar donations in large soup kettles, then send the proceeds directly to a local soup kitchen, food bank or other charity chosen by that congregation. That's it!

Abby, we believe this idea is a gift from God. It was born of prayer and first kicked off by the youth of a single South Carolina church in 1990. Last year, more than 11,300 congregations together generated $2.5 million for worthy charities in communities across the country. The effort has raised an aggregate of $7 million for hungry and hurting people since it became national in 1993.

Organizers don't touch the money, nor do we tell participants where to send the funds. We ask only that someone from each participating group report the amount collected via or by calling (800) 358-SOUP (7687) on Super Bowl Sunday, so that the grand total can be determined and announced to the media.

Our dream is to see 20,000 churches, synagogues and the like encourage members to join together in loving God and neighbor by giving $1 each as they leave services (or school) on Super Bowl Sunday, Jan. 30, 2000. -- THE REV. BRAD SMITH, COLUMBIA, S.C.

DEAR BRAD SMITH: I love the concept -- considering that the amount of each donation is such a small fraction of the amount of money that is going to be changing hands that day. I hope all my readers will encourage their congregations, schools, offices or businesses to participate. By giving $1, everyone will be a winner during Super Bowl 2000.

DEAR ABBY: While going through the papers of a recently deceased friend, Jim Heistercamp, a well-known San Francisco personality, I came across a number of barely legible newsletters dating back to 1934, from St. Joseph School in Menomonie, Wis.

On the first page of the January newsletter was printed the enclosed poem, whose message as we approach the new millennium could not be more timely. I hope you'll share it with your readers. -- FRANK LEVIN, SAN FRANCISCO

DEAR FRANK: The poem you discovered is a gem, and certainly deserving of space in this column. How generous of you to share it. Read on:


To leave the old with a burst of song

To recall the right and forgive the wrong;

To forget the thing that binds you fast

To the vain regrets of the year that's past;

To have the strength to let go your hold

Of the not worthwhile of the days grown old,

To dare to go forth with a purpose true,

To the unknown task of the year that's new;

To help your brother along the road

To do his work and lift his load;

To add your gift to the world's good cheer,

Is to have and to give a Happy New Year.

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