Catholic Relief Services’ (CRS) Operation Rice Bowl released 3.9 million cardboard rice bowls to 13,000 parishes, schools, and families in the lead up to Lent this year. The rice bowls – a centerpiece of CRS’ Lenten program, Operation Rice Bowl – serve as a collection box for almsgiving during Lent. The rice bowls come with a Lenten calendar featuring stories, photographs and facts about how Operation Rice Bowl charity is helping people in need around the world.
In his Lenten message this year, Pope Benedict XVI calls “the very heart of Christian life: charity. Acts of charity towards our brothers and sisters – as expressed by almsgiving, a practice which, together with prayer and fasting, is typical of Lent – is rooted in this common belonging.” “The reach of Operation Rice Bowl has expanded greatly this year as more groups make this part of their Lenten tradition. I believe there is a deep confidence that Operation Rice Bowl is making a difference in the lives of so many who need our help at home and overseas; it’s a way to be part of something big in this world,” says Beth Martin, manager of Operation Rice Bowl for CRS.
CRS employees also participate each Lent. For CRS staff member Thomas Awiapo, Operation Rice Bowl has personal meaning. As a young boy, orphaned in a small village in northern Ghana, Thomas was lured to a nearby school when he smelled lunch cooking. It turned out that the school’s lunch program was supported by Catholic Relief Services through Operation Rice Bowl. Today, Thomas travels to Catholic schools and parishes in the United States sharing his story how Operation Rice Bowl changed his life’s destination and how the program is helping others. His co-workers in Accra, Ghana’s capital, made Operation Rice Bowl part of their Lenten reflection in recognition of Thomas’ work to spread the word of their life-saving work each Lent throughout the U.S.
Catholic Relief Services is the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic community in the United States. The agency provides assistance to people in need in nearly 100 countries, without regard to race, religion or nationality. For more information, please visit www.crs.org or www.crsespanol.org.