CARBONDALE — The season may be over for Saluki Football players, but they were hard at work Saturday taking donations for Good Samaritan Ministries and Murphysboro Food Pantry during the Souper Bowl of Caring.

Souper Bowl of Caring uses the energy surrounding the Super Bowl to mobilize youth to care for people in their local communities who are hungry and in need. The event started in 1990 when 22 churches in Columbia, South Carolina, collected $5,700. It has grown into a national effort that generated $10,168,728.

The concept is simple. Volunteers, like Saluki football players, stand in busy locations asking people to drop donations into soup pots. The donations go to local organization who help those in need.

Junior linebacker Withney Simon exchanged a few hours of his Saturday so those living in the homeless shelter could feel a little more at home.

“We’re doing this so we can feed the homeless and give them a better life,” Simon said while standing outside Kroger in Carbondale.

While Simon has never visited Good Samaritan House, he has visited a homeless shelter in Florida where he lived. He said the people at the shelter did not have as much as other people, but they also did not have as many opportunities.

Simon was joined at Kroger by teammates Lane Reazin, Nico Gualdoni, Jacob Marnin and Max Edwards.

The group was proud of the donations they had collected, “lots of them.” They also had a lot of Saluki Football fans stop and talk, especially children.

“It’s very nice to see parents putting donations in the hands of kids, so they can give back at a very young age,” Edwards said.

They were relieved by Travis Pickert and Sam Skinner, defensive ends, Luke Giegling, defensive tackle, and Devin Jones, a linebacker. It is not uncommon for defensive players to talk smack to an opposing offense, and they wanted to beat an offense on Saturday. This time it was wide receiver Darrell “D.J.” James, their teammate.

James was collecting in front of Wal-Mart in Murphysboro with teammates Zeveyon Furcron, Raphael Leonard and Oliver McDowell.

“I’m honestly trying to help,” Furcron said.

“I feel like it’s a good cause, so we don’t mind spending time out here helping the homeless,” James said.

Furcron said sometimes players are almost forced to do some fundraisers, but they don’t mind doing the Souper Bowl of Caring.

“We appreciate any donation. Whatever we can get is better than what we started with,” Furcron said.

James said it seems like the community is excited to see them participating in this kind of event. It gives fans a chance to talk to players one-on-one.

So, only one question remains. Who are they Salukis cheering for in the big game tomorrow? Most of them will be cheering on the Eagles. Furcron did say he expects the Patriots to win, but it will be a good game.

Anyone who missed the opportunity to donate during Souper Bowl of Caring, donations can be made to Good Samaritan Ministries at Donations to Murphysboro Food Pantry can be mailed to P.O. Box 671, Murphysboro, IL 62966.



Marilyn Halstead is a reporter covering Williamson County.

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