Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl is a simple cardboard box used as a tool for collecting Lenten alms. It comes with a Lenten calendar that guides families through the 40 days of Lent with activities, reflections and stories of hope from the overseas aid agency’s work around the world.

The box — a staple on the dinner table of Catholic families across the country — is how children first hear stories about their brothers and sisters in need around the world. It’s also a way Catholic kids learn to pray for others.

Because 25% of the money dropped into CRS Rice Bowls in western Oregon stays in the Archdiocese of Portland, this “magic box” is how the archdiocese’s Office of Life, Justice and Peace funds small grants awarded to parishes to supplement their charitable efforts addressing hunger and poverty, said Matt Cato, director of the office.

“Our goal is to encourage and facilitate the direct involvement of the Catholic community — parishioners — in charitable work helping the poor who are struggling,” Cato said.

Each grant application includes a pastor’s endorsement.

Here are the recipients of last year’s Catholic Relief Services Rice Bowl Small Grants:

• St. Alice Parish in Springfield received $2,500 for Ruth’s Closet, a program to provide clothing to kids in need.

• St. André Bessette Parish in downtown Portland received $3,000 to help with purchasing food for morning hospitality to homeless guests and a food pantry. Each year, St. André Bessette provides food, clothing, hygiene and other services to 20,000 adult homeless and needy people.

• Ascension Parish in Southeast Portland received $1,200 for its Rahab’s Sisters monthly meal team to purchase food for those affected by human trafficking.

• Catholic Community Services of the Mid-Willamette Valley was awarded $2,000 for Mission Benedict, a shelter in Mount Angel. Funds support a community garden, items for Christmas food boxes for up to 150 families, and food redistribution from local grocers and Marion-Polk Food Share.

• For 15 years, Faith Café in Beaverton has been serving free, nutritious hot meals, served family style, to all hungry for food and community. Made up of Catholic parishioners and others, it was awarded $1,500 to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, foods typically beyond the financial means of guests.

• St. Francis Parish in Southeast Portland received $3,000 for St. Francis Dining Hall, supplementing the food budget.

• Mother and Child Education Center of Northeast Portland offers hope, support, education and guidance to women who are pregnant and parenting, aiming to help build a community of competent, confident parents. It serves more than 2,400 people who primarily live in poverty and often are homeless. A grant of $2,000 supplements its First 1,000 Days program, helping with the costs of purchasing food and emergency supplies such as diapers.

• The Northwest Catholic Counseling Center was founded by three Catholic women religious committed to the Catholic social justice teaching that health care is a basic right for all people regardless of finances, social status or religious belief. The Northeast Portland center commits to providing mental health and counseling to the poor, marginalized and vulnerable. A grant of $2,000 helps fund mental health counseling for low-income Latinos.

• St. Philip Neri Parish in Southeast Portland was awarded $850 for its annual Thanksgiving dinner for people who are homeless. Winter items and service resource materials also are provided for dinner guests.

• St. Rita Parish in Southeast Portland was awarded $2,000 for its St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry to help with the costs of purchasing food for people who are homeless.

• St. Vincent de Paul of Rogue Valley was awarded $3,000 for its food pantry serving people who are homeless. Funds will help purchase supplies for residents in the new tiny house community called Hope Village.