By Christina Dillabough, Designer/Editor
On the first Sunday in Lent, St. Paul UMC passed out pledge forms to each adult and child present for worship. Rev. Billy Still and Rev. Angie McCarty explained the Imagine No Malaria initiative to the congregation and did their best to get the children excited about making a difference. The message was clear that each person—adults and children alike can make a difference in the world, because through Imagine No Malaria, it only takes $10 to save a life.
The church collected a 5th Sunday offering on Easter Sunday in support of Imagine No Malaria and included another giving opportunity at a church-sponsored community event the following Sunday. The children were asked to raise funds for this initiative by contacting their friends and family and asking for $10 pledges. After that, the children were on a mission and their parents supported them helping to facilitate their fundraising efforts.
So far, the church raised approximately $4,760 which translates into 1,190 lives saved. Of that total, the children had raised $890 throughout the weeks of Lent with over half of that amount raised by 5-year-old, Andrew Sonnleitner. When his mother was asked about his accomplishment she shared that he had made all of his fundraising phone calls himself.
“Andrew has watched his two older sisters (Bree and Julia) raise money for school activities, Girl Scouts, etc. So, he knew that calling family and friends would be a good place to start.” said Nikki Sonnleitner, Andrew’s mother. “Andrew called his grandparents, aunts, uncles, friends, teachers at school, and Bree’s friends. Calling his sister’s friends was some of the most fun for him as Bree would dial the number and then hand the phone to Drew. They thought they were going to be speaking with her but instead they received a highly persuasive pitch from a very cute 5-year –old little boy. He made his first call to his Aunt Mary and she donated $200. This made him want to get more and more done so he continued asking, basically no one said no as he had the story down and made a heartfelt ask for them to get involved. When he was all done, Andrew could tell you the dollar amount he raised but I don’t think he truly understood how much money that is for a 5-year-old to raise. What he did understand is that there is a real need and he knew he wanted to help. He wanted to make things ‘right’ in the world.”
Andrew’s mom continued to share, “We are so very proud of Andrew! Our family is now very aware of the scope of the malaria disease and how many people become sick and/or die every year. This was Andrew’s first experience with raising money and we are all beginning to understand the difference a kid can make. We are also very grateful to belong to a community of faith that organized the effort and specifically asked kids to be involved.”
Pastor Angie was asked if this was the first time the kids of St. Paul participated in a church-wide or conference-wide initiative. She replied, “Yes, but certainly not the last.”