The vacation bible school at St. Paul's United Methodist Church in Wilmington, Delaware, raised money for the African Well Fund during its summer program. Over 178 children between the ages of two and 11, plus 33 teen helpers, adult volunteers, parents and church community members raised $3,200 for a new AWF project in Mali.
Nicole Macturk, co-director of the vacation bible school, answered questions about the fundraiser and why it's important for children to learn about charitable giving.
Do you raise money as part of the vacation bible school each year?
Yes, we raise money for a mission each year. This enables the children to be part of a mission, learn about Christian giving and that they can make a difference at any age. Each year a different organization is chosen and we look for charities that tie into our chosen theme and support causes that help children and their needs.
Why was African Well Fund chosen this year?
Our vacation bible school theme was Cokesbury's "Operation Overboard: Where we will dive deep into the Word of God." We liked the idea of incorporating water into our mission. One of our VBS staff members, Doris Ferzetti, knew of AWF and suggested it to us. We felt the need served by AWF was a great one and it involved helping children as well as adults, so it fit our focus.
How did the students raise money?
Every morning I talked about some aspect of what life would be like for the children and their mothers if they did not have running water in their houses or nearby, then showed a short PowerPoint presentation with pictures from your website and the internet. We would then play an offering song "Jehovah Jireh" and pass our collection plates around. Children would bring their collection plates to the front and pour the money into a "well" that we made for the purpose.
What were your fundraising goals?
Your information packet stated that it took between $2,500 and $5,000 to construct a well. I presented those numbers and then set our goal at $2,500 in hopes of completing one well.
How did the students react to the total they raised?
The children were very excited and proud when they were given the totals from each day. In the services following VBS, the recap of the mission and what the children were able to accomplish inspired the congregation.
What did the students learn about Africa and water during this fundraiser?
Water is precious and not as accessible in Africa as it is here. The children learned that the women and children in Africa spend a great deal of their time going to get water, a lot less water than we use daily here. This means they have much less time to study and/or play.
Why do you think it's important for the students to get involved with nonprofits?
Any children who grow up in a Christian church learn we should give to others in need. Children who do not regularly go to a Christian church, but come to ours for a week, are exposed to the idea to give to others. All children can learn that they can make a difference in any part of the world by caring enough to help. They may not be able to travel to Africa to help build a well, but their efforts of giving make a difference. They can change their world for the better.
What advice can you offer to other churches/groups about raising money for AWF?
You should appeal to both children and their parents. At VBS, we are appealing to kids for money which they do not have control over. We reach their parents by inviting them to stay for daily mission presentations and the Friday night VBS Family Program. It is our hope that their children also tell them about the mission we are supporting and that their enthusiasm is catching.
Anything else you'd like to share about your fundraiser?
The children came within a few hundred dollars of their goal on Friday morning. The VBS Family Program on Friday night and a wrap-up presentation on Sunday moved those present to help the children meet and exceed their goal. Yes, we raise money as a mission each year. This enables kids to be part of a mission and learn about Christian giving at their ages. Each year a different organization is chosen and we look for charities that focus on children so our participants can relate to these children and their needs.
If your group is interested in raising money for AWF, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.