CANTON  The sixth annual Mercy Service League “Souper Bowl” raised money and got everyone excited for the regular Super Bowl scheduled for the following weekend. Patrons are encouraged every year to wear their favorite football team jerseys and come with an appetite for hot soup. 

The service league has been holding the popular fundraiser which offers beer and other libations and hot delicious soups to help raise money for Mercy Medical Center. There were 12 different soups for guests to try. Local area restaurants and several assisted living facilities brought in their best soups for the event.

For the past two years, the event has been held at the McKinley Aerie #2370 F.O.E. Grill on Monticello Avenue in Canton. Before that, it was held at the Meyers Lake Ballroom facility.

Wendy Lichtenwalter, chair of the event, came up with the sports theme after the service league decided to end its craft themed fundraiser. She said the idea of having an event the weekend before Super Bowl weekend led to the Souper Bowl idea.

“This year, the funds raised will go to purchasing Sleep Sacks for all of the new babies born at Mercy Medical Center,” Lichtenwalter said. “It’s part of the hospital’s Safe Sleep Initiative. Every vendor serves three ounces of soup and if everyone tries all 12 soups, that’s 36 ounces of soup the guests will be enjoying this afternoon.”

There were many other happenings during the event including a silent basket auction, live music, a wine cork pull and a gift certificate tree. The house was packed around 5 p.m.

“The fundraiser is important to us and being able to provide the sleep sacks is critical to the community," Said Elaine Campbell, director of the Mercy Development Foundation. “Stark County has the highest infant mortality rates in the state and nationally. The sleep sacks the information new mothers receive in the hospital have helped reduce the infant mortality rates.”

The fundraising goal was $12,000 this year. Lichtenwalter said the Mercy Service League had already received $5,000 in sponsorships before the event was held.

Some of the eateries serving soup were Dog Daze from Jackson Township, Grinders Above & Beyond, Tim’s Tavern, Voodoo BBQ, Mercy Medical Center and Arrowhead Golf & Banquet. Others included Sanctuary Grand, Laurels of Canton and Massillon, Metz Culinary, Perry Local Schools Culinary Arts program and McKinley High School Culinary Arts.

Mercy Service League supports the ideals and philosophies of Mercy Medical Center and the ministry of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine through friendship, fellowship and fundraising. Members provide service, outreach and education to Mercy and the community.