Countless wagers are afoot as to whether Denver or Charlotte has the better football team, but the higher ground may be won by the city that has amassed the most canned beans by the end of Super Bowl 50 next Sunday.
The faith community in Denver, Colo., has challenged congregations in Charlotte to a duel, to see which is better at collecting food donations for people in need. The resulting groceries will go to food pantries such as Charlotte’s Loaves & Fishes.
It’s not the first time Denver has done this. In 2014, when the Broncos faced the Seahawks in the Super Bowl, Denver dared Seattle’s faithful in a similar fashion. Denver won, collecting 103,000 cans of food to Seattle’s 53,000.
They expect to win again this year.
“We’ve had 100 drop-off sites established in the first two days. ...We have what we need to beat Carolina both on the field and off the field,” says Brad Laurvick, pastor of Highlands United Methodist Church in Denver. “I’m very confident we’re going to show you guys how to run a food drive.”
What Laurvick doesn’t understand is that he has challenged a city full of over-achieving financiers to do what they do best: Collect, tally, redistribute.
As a result, what began as Methodist football fans in Colorado challenging Methodist fans in North Carolina has morphed into a Charlotte-wide food drive that has roped in help from a previously scheduled Boy Scout food drive set up for Feb. 6.
Scouting for Food, typically held the first Saturday of February, has made a decision that Scouts affiliated with 17 area Methodist churches can have their door-to-door collections credited to the Super Bowl competition. It’s being called “Donate before you Dab,” playing off one of the celebration moves made popular by Panthers quarterback Cam Newton.
Last year, Scouting for Food collected a record 264,000 pounds of food for pantries.
Local organizers have also enlisted other nonprofits, such as the Society of St. Andrews, which this week donated 45,000 pounds of food in the name of the contest.
Nathan Arledge, minister of missions at Myers Park United Methodist, is the Charlotte counterpart of Denver’s Laurvick. Arledge is not a trash talker, but he’s taking the competition seriously enough to have set a 250,000-item goal for the drive, which he says ends at 11:59 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday, give or take a few seconds.
A website has been set up at his behest by the Methodist’s Western Conference of North Carolina, enabling people to give money for buying food at: http://wnccumc.org/united-methodists-keep-pounding-food-drive/
When told Denver already has 100 drop-off sites lined up, Arledge’s first response is: “That’s cute.”
“We’re going to blow them out of the water,” he says. “This won’t be just Methodist churches. We don’t mind leading the charge, but this is about the whole community coming together to support the Panthers.”
Congregations involved in the drive can determine where they want the food they collect to go after the contest. Myers Park United Methodist has decided to support Loaves & Fishes, which operates 20 pantries in Mecklenburg County. Loaves & Fishes provided a week’s worth of groceries to 71,766 people last year, half of whom were children.
The agency says the Super Bowl competition and Scouting for Food come at a critical time for local low-income families. Nearly 10,000 are expected to lose their food stamps this spring, due to eligibility changes. That will make them more dependent on pantries, which provide a week’s supply of groceries at no cost.
Laurvick in Denver hopes the rivalry will inspire people in both cities to devote more resources to help those in need.
“Our success last time came because we engaged the entire community. You don’t stand a chance if it’s just individual churches gathering food,” said Laurvick.
It’s with that in mind that he set up a donation website of his own: http://unitedinorange.org/.
“A little saber rattling,” he says. “So Broncos fans in the Charlotte region can donate to this side.”
How to help
To join the Keep Pounding Food Drive Vs. Denver, visit http://wnccumc.org/united-methodists-keep-pounding-food-drive/.
To donate to Scouting for Food, place bags of nonperishable food items outside your home for pick up Saturday, Feb. 6. Scouts have distributed grocery bags provided by Harris Teeter in neighborhoods included in the collection. Food can also be dropped off at area Harris Teeter store barrels or at trailers at the following locations Feb. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and Feb. 7, 12:30 p.m.-2:30 p.m.:
- Arboretum Shopping Center, Providence Road and N.C. 51, Charlotte
- Bethel Presbyterian Church, 19920 Bethel Church Road, Cornelius
- Huntersville United Methodist Church,14005 Stumptown Road, Huntersville
- Mulberry Presbyterian Church, 5600 Tuckaseegee Road, Charlotte
- Philadelphia Presbyterian Church, 11501 Bain School Road, Mint Hill
- Sharon United Methodist Church, 4411 Sharon Road, Charlotte
- Town Center Plaza, 8600 University City Blvd., Charlotte
- Trinity Presbyterian Church, 3115 Providence Road, Charlotte