Locals Do their Part to Change the World
United Methodists throughout Western PA are out to Change the World by “thinking globally and acting locally” to make a difference in their communities and raise awareness and funds to save lives in Africa, where children are dying from malaria, a preventable disease.
The last weekend in April was Change the World weekend and United Methodist all over the world participated in community outreach projects, as well as activities centered on the launch of our denomination’s Imagine No Malaria campaign, headed by our Bishop Thomas J. Bickerton.
Pennsylvania was second only to Texas in the number of Change the World/Imagine No Malaria events over the April 23-25 weekend.
The good news is that many of these efforts to make a difference have energized congregations and will continue long after the weekend. Some were long-standing outreach efforts that were simply emphasized on the weekend.
Many congregations supported the Erie United Methodist Alliance, which provides temporary housing and services for the homeless, a thrift shop and a residence for homeless veterans. For Change the World weekend, the Alliance developed a list of projects at its facilities. Forty-six people of all ages, representing eight congregations, one Baptist, turned out the get the jobs done. The work included:
At The Refuge, for homeless families, the basement floor, front and back access ramps and the back porch were paintied and activities were provided for the children. At Hope House a fence was stained, flower beds were weeded and mulched and the garden tilled. Construction started on a storage shed and bathroom repairs were made at the Rainbow Connection Thrift store; a fence was repaired and painted and the television room and laundry areas were painted at Liberty House and 200 comfort kits with hygiene items were packed for distribution through Project Hope Outreach to people living on the streets.
“All during that day people kept asking what else they could do,” said Cheryl Davis, EUMA director. “Work continues through what people saw that day - many are coming back to continue work and take on additional projects since they saw the need.”
Also in the Erie-Meadville District, Simpson Cascade UMC launched a Change for Change project. “Water bottles were handed out to be returned filled with change (coins) on Mother’s Day so that not one more mother will ever have to see her child suffer from malaria,” said the Rev. Patricia Mollick.
Harmony-Zelienople UMC focused on malaria prevention. Seneca Valley High School student Ryan Price scheduled a Rock-A-Thon to raise money for insecticide-treated mosquito nets as his senior project, raising more than $650. The entire congregation celebrated World Malaria Day and contributed $717 to the cause. “We have a team of 12 going to Tanzania,” said John Jefferis, pastor. “We understand there are three net distribution sites ... we hope to visit one of the refugee camps where nets have been distributed. It is exciting to put our faith into action as we pray and share the Good News of Jesus’ great love!”
First UMC in Rochester partnered with Rochester Area High School for a Free Throw-a-Thon at the high school that raised $1,325 for Nothing but Nets. “We had a great time, had lots of community participation, and plans are already being made for an even bigger event next year!” said Dan Miller, the youth director who organized the efforts. “I already have junior basketball players asking the principal if they can do this for next year’s senior project.”
Local scouts partnered to help with the free throw contest, and Miller and his youth went to the Scout Camporee and made $200 for nets with BUZZKILL t-shirt sales They also distributed Imagine No Malaria information and fliers for a fundraiser the following weekend at Cheeseburger Cheeseburger.
In Clarion, Kids to Kids, a mission outreach group from First UMC and First Presbyterian Church, delivered 531 pairs of new and gently used shoes to the Timberland Store at the Grove City Prime Outlets. The children collected the shoes for three weeks over Easter for Soles4Souls, Inc. The nonprofit works to change the world one pair of shoe at a time by distributing the shoes in areas where they are desperately needed. Those collected in Clarion will help those affected by earthquakes in Haiti and Chile. The children’s mission group, also scheduled a pancake breakfast the following weekend to support their on-going local and global mission projects.
In Somerset, teens from Calvary, First and Grace UMCs scheduled a Nothing But Nets Lock-in at First Church. They planned a 24-hour fast to raise money and awareness of the need for bed nets in Africa, “so we can say there is no more malaria!”
Send your Change the World/Imagine No Malaria story to email@example.com.