When the Ohio State Buckeyes take on the Louisiana State University Tigers at the BCS National Championship Game on January 7, more than bragging rights are on the line. The Episcopal dioceses of Southern Ohio and Louisiana have found a way to make sure everyone comes out a winner -- regardless of the score.
In the Win-Win Episcopal Buckeye Challenge, Southern Ohio Bishop Thomas E. Breidenthal has pledged to support the "Bundles of Hope" recovery efforts in the Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana. For each touchdown scored by the Buckeyes, he'll donate $250 from his discretionary fund for a "Bundle of Volunteers," money that will help house and feed volunteers who have come to New Orleans to help rebuild. For each Buckeye field goal, the bishop will pitch in $100.
"I'm ready to write a big check," says Breidenthal, a new fan of the Ohio State Buckeyes. "It will be great to see Ohio State win another championship, but it's even better to know that these dollars will help families get back in their own homes."
The bishop issued a challenge to the more than 25,000 Episcopalians in Southern Ohio -- and to Episcopalians and football fans across the country. "I'm calling on everyone to join in this win-win challenge. This is a way to support our team as well as our brothers and sisters in Louisiana who are still picking up the pieces from Hurricane Katrina," he said. "There's no mention of Love thy Buckeyes in the Bible -- but God does call upon us to Love our Neighbors. This challenge lets us do both."
Hundreds of volunteers from the Diocese of Southern Ohio have helped in the recovery efforts in Louisiana and Mississippi, both through financial donations to agencies such as Episcopal Relief and Development as well as on mission trips spent cleaning, sorting, painting and rebuilding in Louisiana. Still, two years later, thousands of families in New Orleans and along the Gulf Coast remain homeless.
With the championship game being played in New Orleans, the Win-Win Episcopal Buckeye Challenge offers an opportunity for Southern Ohio to specifically support the Diocese of Louisiana and the people of New Orleans in practical, tangible ways. Support for the rest of Gulf Coast continues through mission trips and donations.
Louisiana Bishop Charles Jenkins welcomes the assistance from Southern Ohio.
"I wholeheartedly accept Bishop Breidenthal's generous challenge, although I am concerned that the Buckeye fans won't have to buy very many Bundles of Hope. We know they will have a hard time scoring against the Tiger defense," he said. "We truly appreciate the volunteers and the donations from the Diocese of Southern Ohio, and we are grateful for the help in rebuilding New Orleans. Communities of faith have continued to do the real work of rebuilding this city, and we are thankful for the support of the entire Episcopal community."
The Diocese of Louisiana has established a program for supporting the recovery effort called "Bundles of Hope." Learn more about the Bundles of Hope here.
- $20 Donation buys a Bundle of Food: This gift helps to feed the hungry in the greater New Orleans area.
- $50 Donation buys a Bundle of Care: St. Anna's Mobile Medical Mission and St. Thomas Community Health Center work in partnership with the diocese to provide wellness care and medical services to residents.
- $100 buys a Bundle of Activism: The devastation of the floodwaters revealed generations of neglect and poverty for the world to see. Through sacred activism, the diocese continues to advocate for all citizens regardless of race or creed.
- $250 buys a Bundle of Volunteers: Provide a safe, comfortable place for volunteers to stay while they are working in New Orleans.
- $1,000 buys a Bundle of Rebuilding: This high-impact gift helps to purchase much-needed building supplies such as sheet rock, paint, fixtures and appliances to help people get back in their homes.
Anyone can participate in this challenge. Bulletin inserts and flyers are available for download on Southern Ohio's website here. Louisiana also has LSU bulletin inserts and information available on its website. Report planned pledges to Richelle Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out a pledge card online here. Watch Southern Ohio's website (http://diosohio.org/) for challenge updates.
After the game, donations can be made safely and securely online here or checks sent directly to the Diocese of Louisiana at Episcopal Diocese of Louisiana, P.O. Box 5026, Baton Rouge, LA 70821
The Diocese of Southern Ohio covers 40 counties and has more than 80 congregations. The Diocese of Louisiana has 54 congregations in 23 parishes in southeast Louisiana.