Some adults arrived at the Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush at about 7 am and youth show up at about 8 am to help make subs inside the warmth of the church’s Fellowship Hall on a cold, windy February 3, 2019, morning.
Inside, adults and youth keep busy in the back kitchen, some cutting meats and separating cheese slices. Some young girls scoop chopped-up onions into zip lock baggies in a back room. A couple youth and Marty Lieberg scoop olives into zip lock baggies at one table. Youth sit at two different tables on the same side of the Fellowship Hall placing meats and cheeses on subs, as both youth and adults moved along the other side of the tables with these subs.
The subs then make their way to a middle table to get wrapped in a couple layers of paper. The subs next go into brown paper bags, along with different toppings– all in zip lock baggies, including lettuce, tomatoes, olives, pickles, and onions– as specified on the individual order forms. Individuals then staple the order forms to the baggies and placed them on tables, according to the last name on the order.
On a table on the opposite side of the Fellowship Hall, Carrie Jo Howard and Sue Lieberg go through order slips, organizing them by delivery and pick-up.
At 8:30 am, the Worship Service at Bethel begins. The youth and adult sub makers continue to work in the Fellowship Hall, separated by just a wall of glass windows and a couple set of doors. The sub makers can hear the noise of the service on speakers, slightly audible over the sound of their work.
Carrie Jo Howard stops these workers at about 9:15 am to have them all line up to take communion during the service. After communion, the workers put on new plastic gloves and get back to work.
Following the service, parishioners meet in the Fellowship Hall for lemonade, coffee, donuts, and muffins, and some pick up their sub orders. Over the noise of this fellowship, the workers continue to put the sub orders together in the same room. They finish putting all the orders together at about 10:20 am.
This right here represents just another Super Bowl Sunday at the Bethel Lutheran Church. For those who have helped make these subs over the years– this event means more than just a time to make subs. It’s a time– a tradition– to come together to raise money for the youth of the Bethel Lutheran Church and the Faith Lutheran Church in Badger. That mission, no matter the number of subs made and sold, has remained the same over the event’s 25 years.
As a way to raise funds for youth going to the National Youth Gathering, this event started out with just a group of about 12 people– adults and youth– making subs on two eight-foot tables in the small back room, the same one the group of girls used to bag onions.
An organizer of this event, Carrie Jo Howard got this Super Bowl Sub fundraiser idea from a church back in her hometown.
“I thought, here’s something we’ve never tried,” Carrie Jo said.
That first year, they made eight dozen subs.
“It was a huge success, so then every year it’s kind of built since then,” Carrie Jo said.
This year, according to the last counts, they sold 534 subs. They reached a high two years ago when they sold 564. No matter the size of this fundraiser, they have continued to use the same order form.
Every three years, youth attend the National Youth Gathering and the funds from this event go towards that. During the years when the youth don’t attend the National Youth Gathering, the funds are split amongst regular youth activities and funds are always put to the side for the National Youth Gathering.
This year’s event included help for local high school graduates, including 2018 Greenbush-Middle River graduate Jaustyn Dahl. She decided to continue to help with this event, even though the funds no longer go to her as a youth at the church. Why?
It’s been a part of her life for so long.
“I’ve just done it for so many years and it’s just kind of like a Super Bowl tradition, so it kind of felt weird seeing it advertised and then not going,” Jaustyn said.
The church back in Carrie Jo’s hometown no longer does this fundraiser anymore, but Bethel Church continues on with the tradition. Former pastor of the church Mark Mathews has even started the tradition at his new parish.
In its twenty-fifth year, this event has been scoring touchdowns in more ways than one, not just by giving people something tasty to eat, but also a chance for a church and an entire community to come together to help give youth more opportunities for fellowship and worship. It has become a Greenbush Super Bowl tradition.
“It’s more than subs. It’s more of a community thing,” Jaustyn said, “and everyone kind of knows the Bethel Super Bowl Subs.”
To see the full story, read the February 6 issue of The Tribune in print or online.