Fans Can Help Out Hungry Families

Fans can help feed needy families through an NFL sponsor's October Web site promotion. The best part is there is no cost to help out -- just a little of your time.

As a rule, VU doesn't get into promotion of private companies. However, Campbell's Soup is in the process of doing a program VU has strongly supported over the past couple of years.

Campbell's is a sponsor of the NFL and many of you have likely seen Chunky Soup commercials featuring players like Kurt Warner and Donovan McNabb doing commercials with their mothers.

On the Chunky Soup website -- -- the company has an ongoing promotion to have fans select their favorite team to receive donations of cans of Chunky Soup to area foodshelves. The company is offering up to 5 million cans of free soup to be donated and, as of Thursday night, the Vikings rank third among the teams selected.

In the most recent check, Green Bay holds a big lead with 516,000 picks, followed by Buffalo with 398,000 and the Vikings with 297,000.

To get involved, all people have to do is go to the Chunky Web site, click on the kickoff for hunger icon and click on the helmet of any team. People can only click on once a day to have their votes tabulated, but anyone can cast a vote daily and each vote provides another can of soup -- until the promotion ends or Campbell's hits its goal of 5 million cans.

The purpose of making this a lead item at a site dedicated to Vikings news is simple. The more people who read this, the more people will tell their friends or work associates and the more cans of soup being offered by the company will be redeemed. In the end, food shelves throughout the country will be provided with additional stock to feed hungry children and families.

The promotion includes providing the soup to designated areas assigned to a specific team. If, for example, you are reading this from Florida, you may want to click on the Miami, Tampa Bay or Jacksonville icon. The purpose of this, from VU's perspective, isn't necessarily to try to spike the Vikings numbers. It's to get the word out to as many people as possible to participate in this program. VU staff and employees are clicking away and we hope you will too. It's free. It only takes a minute or so if you bookmark the page and it will help out those who likely can't go on-line to vote themselves.

* At Thursday's press conference, Mike Tice declined to announce D'Wayne Bates as the starter Sunday, claiming media sources as "speculating" to a change, but Derrick Alexander confirmed the stories from yesterday, saying that he's been switching in and out with Bates at practice and seeing less time. And, in three-receiver sets, Chris Walsh was joining Bates and Moss on more the plays than Alexander. Expect an official announcement of a change today, barring a setback in Bates' groin injury.
* Setback may be the word -- at the league level anyway -- to the condition of Matt Birk. Playing with a knee injury, Birk took part in considerably more practice time Thursday but was officially downgraded by the Vikings on their injury report from probable to questionable. While it is expected that Birk will play, the team is giving more first-unit time to backup Cory Withrow in case he's needed.
* Henri Crockett practiced Thursday, but was described as tentative and at best a 50-50 shot to play Sunday. If he shows marked improvement today, he may be activated. If not, he'll be one of Sunday's inactives.

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