Super Sunday is an American tradition and, football fan or not, the vast majority of us find ourselves in someone’s living room or den gathered around the television watching the game (okay, the ads). For enterprising fundraisers, it’s also a fantastic opportunity to gather friends together for a good cause.
This evening, Jeff Capps, Executive Director of Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity, and his wife, Amber, hosted one of 85 house parties that will benefit the local Habitat for Humanity organization. These Home Team Huddles raise money that goes directly to building homes for deserving—and hard-working—families.
My husband, Joe, who just joined Capps’ staff as Director of the Cedar Valley ReStore (the home-recycling and revenue-raising arm of Habitat), had to work hard to convince me to join him. Well, not that hard, as food and friends were involved. But I’m a dedicated skeptic when it comes to televised sports; I never intended to plunk myself down in front of the big screen. (Hey, any ads I want to see will be on YouTube by the end of the game.)
Curiously, most of the people at this particular Super Sunday event had the same idea. We gathered in the kitchen, sharing stories, noshing on potluck, and getting to know each other. Despite my reluctance to go to a Super Bowl party, I had a great time. I also had a chance to find out more about the fundraising aspect.
“When I worked for Habitat for Humanity in Memphis,” Jeff told me, “my boss at the time, Dwayne Spenceer, said he had long dreamed of combining the Super Bowl with fundraising at home parties. It fit right in with my job at the time, so I took it and ran with it.” That first year, Capps enlisted Memphis-area families to host house parties, and Home Team Huddles were an immediate favorite. The event has been running successfully in Memphis for the past eight years.
Capps, who moved to Iowa with Habitat for Humanity three years ago, brought the Home Team Huddle idea with him. “The first year, we had a few families participating—and no sponsor. We run the event on a limited budget, most of which is spent on advertising. This year, our expenses have been covered by sponsors, so everything we raise will go directly to helping build houses.”
Habitat for Humanity is widely acclaimed for its work “eliminating sub-standard housing in the community, and creating affordable home-ownership opportunities in partnership with families in need,” explains Cedar Valley Habitat for Humanity’s website. The Cedar Valley group “has built or renovated more than 100 homes” since 1988:
Partner families make a down payment, invest hundreds of hours of sweat equity into the construction of their homes and other Habitat homes, and make monthly mortgage payments on a zero-interest loan…. Cedar Valley Habitat plans to serve 22 families in 2012 through a combination of projects, including new construction, home rehabilitations and exterior painting/repair projects.
Hosts who signed up for a Home Team Huddle scored a bag of goodies, including “an official T-shirt; fun promotional items including an event poster, pint glass, football tote and stickers for party guests; collection envelope and ideas for helping to promote the event.” Guests, in turn, got to sign in for a chance to win a trip to an NFL city, including flight, hotel stay, and two NFL tickets. “All the prizes were donated,” Jeff said.
With an average attendance of 20, the 85 parties tonight should bring in upwards of 1,700 people. In addition, Collins Road Theatres and the Cedar Rapids Titans hosted similar events for the public. Though the donations won’t all be tallied for a couple of days, the Super Sunday gatherings promise to provide a significant funding boost for the Cedar Valley organization.
Asked if other Habitat for Humanity groups around the country host Home Team Huddles, Capps said, “If there are, I haven’t heard of any.”
As I see it, that’s an opportunity waiting to be snatched. If you volunteer for Habitat for Humanity in your community, consider starting a Home Team Huddle event next Super Sunday. You can have some fun while raising some funds. And you don’t even have to like football.
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