A Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl sits in the center of the table at a Catholic family's home in Centreville, Virginia. The nationwide Lenten program encourages participants to learn about hunger and poverty around the globe and then to make donations to help those most in need. A quarter of the Rice Bowl collection funds local programs. (Catholic News Service)
A Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl sits in the center of the table at a Catholic family's home in Centreville, Virginia. The nationwide Lenten program encourages participants to learn about hunger and poverty around the globe and then to make donations to help those most in need. A quarter of the Rice Bowl collection funds local programs. (Catholic News Service)

The Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl program, a longstanding Lenten donation effort, is set again for western Oregon Catholics. For decades, youngsters have saved and slipped coins into a small paper bowl, symbolic of the way many people in the world survive. Moms and dads tend to add bills, perhaps linking the donations to simple meals during Lent. 

The Rice Bowl Lenten program is for parishes, schools and homes; children and adults. Participants are invited to hear stories about their brothers and sisters in need around the world, and devote Lenten prayers, fasting and alms to change the lives of those who suffer in poverty.

Seventy-five percent of Rice Bowl funds are used for international relief and development projects. But a quarter from every dollar stays in western Oregon and funds the CRS Rice Bowl Small Grant Program. The grants go to projects within the Archdiocese of Portland that address hunger and poverty. The archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace administers the collection and the grant program. Last year, the office gave more than $25,000 in grants to 13 organizations. 

St. Alice Parish in Springfield received $2,000 to supplement its poor fund, which provides money for food, temporary shelter, and medical care for persons requesting services from the parish.

St. André Bessette Parish in downtown Portland received $2,000 to help with the costs of purchasing food for morning hospitality sessions and the food pantry.

Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley was awarded $2,000 to cover purchase and installation of a new stove for the community kitchen of the residents of St. Joseph Shelter in Mount Angel. St. Joseph Shelter delivers a ministry of hospitality to homeless families in need, providing housing, clothing, advocacy, referrals, emergency assistance, and a supportive community.

St. Cyril Parish in Wilsonville was awarded $1,500 to help fund gas vouchers for people, especially those who live in their car, who need assistance getting to social services, medical services and job interviews.

The FISH of Roseburg serves homeless persons and low-income households throughout Douglas County by providing an emergency food pantry, financial assistance for children’s medication, emergency transportation assistance and a short term emergency shelter. Its award of $3,000 will be used to purchase milk, eggs and other basics for emergency food boxes for low-income families and individuals.

The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center was founded by three Catholic sisters committed to the Catholic social justice teaching that health care is a basic right. The center commits to providing service and compassion to the poor, marginalized and vulnerable in the community, specifically mental health and counseling services. Its award of $2,875 will help fund mental health counseling and psychiatric medication management appointments for lower-income women over 50.

St. Philip Neri Parish in Southeast Portland was awarded $600 for its annual Thanksgiving dinner for people who are homeless.

St. John the Apostle Parish in Oregon City was awarded $2,000 for its St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry. Funds will help purchase a walk-in cooler/freezer.

St. John the Baptist Parish in Milwaukie was awarded $2,000 for its St. Vincent de Paul 2017 Housing & Utilities Program. Funds will help with the costs of utilities and rent or shelter.

St. Juan Diego Parish in Northwest Portland was awarded $2,000 for its St. Vincent de Paul Pantry Backpack Program. The backpack program provides food on weekends for elementary school children who have been identified as lacking adequate food at home.

St. Rita Parish in Northeast Portland was awarded $2,000 for its St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry.

St. Vincent de Paul of Lebanon was awarded $2,000 for it food pantry.

St. Vincent de Paul of Rogue Valley was awarded $3,000 for its food pantry efforts with Hope Village. Funds will help with the costs of purchasing supplies for residents in the new tiny house community.