OCA High School Student Organizes Pan-Orthodox Event

(IOCC) - A pan-Orthodox charity event organized by a Columbus, Ohio, teen-ager recently raised more than $500 for International Orthodox Christians Charities (IOCC).

Juliana Mecera, a parishioner at St. Gregory of Nyssa Orthodox Church (OCA) and a junior at Jonathan Alder High School in Plain City, Ohio, recruited several Orthodox churches in central Ohio to participate in the national “Souper Bowl of Caring” on Feb. 3.

The annual event, timed to take place on Super Bowl Sunday, raises money for charity by soliciting $1 donations from parishioners as they leave Sunday morning worship services. Young people from participating churches in all parts of the country stand at sanctuary exits and receive the dollar donations in large soup pots. All the money, and any food collected, is then sent directly to a charity selected by each youth group.

Last year, 12,500 congregations raised $3.6 million for various charities. The total so far for this year is $3.01 million raised by 9,750 participating churches.

Juliana, 17, has coordinated the central Ohio event for the past three years. This year, St. Barnabas Antiochian Mission joined St. Gregory’s and Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in donating money and collecting canned goods.

More than $500 was raised and sent collectively to IOCC, the official humanitarian aid agency of Orthodox Christians. Canned goods were donated to a local food pantry.

Juliana was responsible for contacting church representatives, distributing promotional materials, soliciting young children from her parish to hold the soup pots, collecting donations, and reporting donation totals to the Souper Bowl of Caring headquarters.

“It’s a great chance to promote our pan-Orthodoxy and do something in cooperation with each other,” Juliana said in an interview with the Columbus Dispatch.

The Souper Bowl of Caring began at a Presbyterian church in Columbia, S.C., in 1990 and has since grown into a national grassroots movement.

In addition to coordinating the Souper Bowl event, Juliana is founder of the St. Gregory’s Youth Group, a choir member and a reader of the hours and post-communion prayers.

Founded in 1992, IOCC is celebrating its 10th anniversary as the premier humanitarian aid agency for Orthodox Christians. For more information about its 10th anniversary events, including the cross-country “Race to Respond” bicycle tour in August, visit www.iocc.org.