Father Kramper’s impact felt immediately
Father James Kramper doesn’t know if his parishes led the archdiocese in Rice Bowl collections before he came to the Ewing area in 2008.
But he does know he was honing skills for the Lenten effort as pastor of St. Patrick Parish in Tekamah and Holy Family Parish in Decatur, Sacred Heart Parish in Emerson and St. John the Baptist Parish in Pender, and other parishes he served in the years before arriving at St. Peter de Alcántara Parish in Ewing, St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Clearwater and St. John the Baptist Parish in Deloit Township of Holt County.
"I know I learned different approaches in other parishes," Father Kramper said.
One thing for certain didn’t happen: Not every parishioner, from babies to grandparents, was offered their own Rice Bowl. The cardboard boxes to benefit Catholic Relief Services were handed out one per family.
That one-to-one innovation came with the three parishes Father Kramper now serves, and it was happenstance. About five years ago, those three parishes received double their orders of Rice Bowls – perhaps, Father Kramper said, because he made a new order on top of a forgotten standing order.
Ever since, every parishioner is offered, and many use, a Rice Bowl of their own, Father Kramper said.
"Even a little baby in arms, if he can reach out, he gets a Rice Bowl," Father Kramper said.
Creative suggestions for "feeding the Rice Bowl" also are part of the annual Lenten giving. And parishioners have responded in a big way.
A Big Jump
In the 2007-08 fiscal year, the three parishes gave a total of $158 to the Rice Bowl collection.
In 2008-2009, Father Kramper’s first year, the amount grew to $3,857 and topped all parishes in the archdiocese. In 2009-2010 it was $4,590, second place to St. Patrick Parish in Elkhorn’s $5,225.
In 2010-2011 it was $5,220, and it’s been $5,000 or more – and led the archdiocese – ever since.
When everyone gives a little, it adds up to a lot, Father Kramper said.
Last year, coins alone totaled $2,649.
"This tells me there were a lot of trips to the Rice Bowl," he said. "Even by children, because they are more likely to give coins."
Father Kramper said he is grateful to parishioners for their generosity – and to the local banks for helping the parishes track the money. The bank in Clearwater handles the coins, the bank in Ewing the paper money, he said.
"We start two weeks before Easter, we go four weeks after Easter, so the banks are busy for six weeks," Father Kramper said.
Teresa Dunbar, a Midwest relationship manager for CRS, said Father Kramper’s parishes demonstrate the impact on the greater good of everyone contributing something.
"Those little coins you put in that box really do make a difference," she said.