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CURRENT ISSUE:  March 7, 2011
VOL. 49, NO. 5   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page stories
Lenten sacrifice: Time to give up plastic bags or incandescent bulbs?
Big push to enroll more Latino students
Operation Rice Bowl
becomes a staple of Lent

In her 35 years at the School of the Madeleine, Heather Skinner, vice principal and director of children’s faith formation, has seen her share of cardboard rice bowls go home with students this time of year.

“When children see their significant adults — family members and teachers — really caring about it and having it in a prominent place of display, they are much more inclined to share that enthusiasm,” Skinner said.

Agencies helped
in 2010

Ariel Outreach Mission, Oakland

CRECE of the East Bay, Oakland

Ephesian Church, Berkeley

Interfaith Sharing, Livermore

Kmhmu Pastoral Center, Berkeley

Oakland Catholic Worker

Society of St. Vincent de Paul Assumption Conference, San Leandro

Society of St. Vincent de Paul St. Edward’s, Newark

St. Anne Church, Byron

St. Vincent de Paul Contra Costa County, Pittsburg

St. Vincent de Paul Contra Costa County, Brentwood

Tri-Valley Haven, Livermore

More at: Catholic Relief Services’ Operation Rice Bowl, http://orb.crs.org.
Among those bringing one home from the Berkeley school is seventh-grader Leo Nakamura.

“My son gets an allowance every week,” says his mother, Catie Cariaga-Nakamura. “Some goes to savings and some to charity.” Leo, a member of Boy Scout Troop 24 who often serves at the parish dinner for homeless people, makes financial contributions as well. From his allowance come gifts to Operation Rice Bowl, as well as for turkey dinners his school puts together for needy families at Thanksgiving and Christmas baskets.

The familiar cardboard Operation Rice Bowl box will take its customary place on a triangular table in the Cariaga-Nakamura kitchen this week.

In many homes across the Diocese of Oakland, a familiar part of the Lenten landscape will make its annual appearance in the kitchen or on the dining room table. The four-by-four inch box has a slot in the top to accommodate incremental contributions of coins and bills along the Lenten journey.

Operation Rice Bowl, the annual Lenten program of Catholic Relief Services, begins on Ash Wednesday, March 9. Catholic schools and parishes from more than 12,000 communities participate, according to Catholic Relief Services. In the Diocese of Oakland, contributions were received from 66 parishes last year.

Those little boxes — symbolic rice bowls — have become the focal point for prayer, fasting and learning for millions of Catholics. Getting involved in the program is a tangible way to help people living in poverty around the world.

With the rice bowl comes a colorful brochure with recipes, readings and information about the places where contributions to Operation Rice Bowl makes a difference. Stories from Honduras, Kenya, Haiti, Indonesia, Senegal and Chicago are highlighted in this year’s brochure.

Some actions: “25 percent of children in Kenya are not enrolled in school . . . Give 25 cents to your Rice Bowl for every grade you have completed.”

And: “Celebrate Earth Day today by planting a seed in a small pot. Watch as it grows.”

Or: “Pray for all who struggle with hunger and poverty here in the United States.”

Participants in Operation Rice Bowl are asked to prepare simple, meatless recipes each week and put the money they otherwise would have spent on a big meal into symbolic rice bowls. That money goes to support Catholic Relief Services’ mission to fight global hunger and poverty.

Twenty-five percent of the funds raised locally stay in the community in the form of Operation Rice Bowl grants, to local St. Vincent de Paul Conferences and other organizations, such as soup kitchens, shelters in the area which are working to alleviate hunger. The money for these grants came from ORB donations given last Lent by parishes and schools in the Oakland Diocese.

“Participating in Operation Rice Bowl provides Catholics with 40 days of making a real difference in the lives of people struggling with hunger and poverty,” Beth Martin, program manager for Operation Rice Bowl, said in a statement. “Learning about our brothers and sisters in developing countries and following the call to sacrifice helps thousands of people onto a path out of poverty every year.”

Last year, Catholics raised more than $6 million through Operation Rice Bowl. Since its beginning in 1975, Operation Rice Bowl has raised more than $191 million to fund Catholic Relief Services’ development projects.

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