Middle School Students Fund A Well Project
This week, we heard of an incredible story from SHINE!, the middle school ministry here at The Chapel, about a fundraising project driven totally by the students. We asked Elle Campbell, the Volunteer & Small Groups Coordinator for SHINE!, to share that story with us here:
Once in a while (well, actually, pretty regularly), our staff and volunteers get asked something to the effect of: “Why would you ever want to work with middle schoolers? You must have so much patience. I could never deal with these kids.”
Well, there are actually tons of reasons why we love working with middle schoolers, but today we wanted to share a story that illustrates just one of those reasons: because, when you tell them they can change the world, they believe you.
Since the beginning of October, we’ve been challenging our middle schoolers to “make their mark” on the world by being and sharing the love, hope, and healing of Jesus. And, while we didn’t originally plan for it, the timing of our “Make Your Mark” teaching series aligned perfectly with Let Them LOL’s 20 Campaign.
Let Them LOL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bringing clean water solutions to communities in Sierra Leone, Africa. The 20 Campaign was their most recent initiative that focused on raising the funds to build 20 clean water wells, for 20 villages, in 20 days. The 20 Campaign ended on October 20, but you can still find out more about it at www.20campaign.com.
...when you tell them they can change the world, they believe you.
So as we kicked off our teaching series about changing the world with the hope of Jesus, we began encouraging our middle schoolers to check out The 20 Campaign as one way to act on what they were learning. And, just to make it a little more exciting, we turned it into a competition, with an ice cream party prize for the grade (at CrossPoint) or gender (at Lockport) that raised the most money.
For four weeks, we challenged middle schoolers to think of ways to make a difference, in the name of Jesus. We showed them photos from some of the villages that Let Them LOL is connected with. One of their volunteers told the stories of children and families who were sick and dying simply because they didn’t have access to clean water. We told them that it costs $5,000 to build one well.
And then things got crazy.
Students started taking action. Every weekend, middle schoolers were organizing bake sales, garage sales, and craft sales in their communities and middle schools. They were clearing out their bedrooms looking for things to sell and spare change to donate. They made hundreds of flyers for neighborhood bottle drives. Some sold Let Them LOL bracelets at their schools. Small groups stayed after church to strategize and brainstorm and prepare for their fundraisers. We couldn’t keep up with them!
We set up empty water jugs on Sunday mornings where students could deposit the money they raised and, every week, donations rolled in. A few handfuls of coins, $25 from a bake sale, $50 from a bottle drive, $300 from a garage sale. In the final weekend of the campaign, a couple dozen middle schoolers raised a total of at least $750 - in one day.
We were absolutely floored by their response. By the last weekend of The 20 Campaign, we were estimating that our students had raised between $1,500 and $2,000 in just 3 weeks! We were so proud of them. But we knew we wouldn’t have enough to build an entire well (which costs $5,000). We never really expected to raise that much money, but it certainly crossed our minds as something that would have been really, really cool.
That’s an entire village of people, on the other side of the globe, whose lives will be changed forever... by a bunch of 10-13 year olds who got passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus, and did something about it.
On the final Sunday morning of The 20 Campaign, one of our Small Group Leaders told us that we had to come talk to one of the girls in her small group about the fundraiser.
“Um, well...” she said. “My guidance counselor let me and my two friends do some things at school to raise money.”
“Awesome! Like what?”
“You know, just asking for donations... selling things... we did a Spirit Week and a staff dress-down day.”
“Cool, so how much do you think you raised?”
“Um... like, $3,000. Maybe more. We’re not done yet.”
So, SHINE! is building a well. That’s an entire village of people, on the other side of the globe, whose lives will be changed forever... by a bunch of 10-13 year olds who got passionate about sharing the hope of Jesus, and did something about it.
And that’s why we like working with middle schoolers.
You can learn more about SHINE! and what those awesome middle schoolers are up to at their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SHINEdotMS