Friday, May 2, 2008

The $5 campaign

I am working with a group of folks on fundraising for next year's Katrina relief trip. We are already scheduled to go (Pasadena and Riverside districts), and we know that much of the funds are running out. Samaritan's Purse (Franklin Graham's organization) was donating some $20,000 per house ($55,000 for a whole house, start to finish with permits etc), and they pulled out at the end of April. Red Cross gives another $10,000 (I think that's the right number) and they are scheduled to pull funds at the end of the summer. Nevertheless, there are still at least 40,000 families/households in Mississippi living in FEMA trailers. That's a lot of displaced families. That does not include those folks who are in their homes, but their homes are not fully refurbished, or those folks that FEMA refused to help. In essence, the need is still great.

So, we're trying to do some organizing. This year, we were able to leave about $9000 cash to be used for families. This coming year we'd like to be able to take at least $55,000 to pay for one full house for a family. A team of us from our two districts is brainstorming, meeting, and trying to figure out how we can best do that.

Last night I had an idea. There are some 90,000 members in our annual conference (more or less, and no they are probably not all active...) and if each of those people gave just $5 we could raise $450,000--enough for 8 houses. That's one house per district. That's not a lot to ask. If everyone who is currently at General Conference were to give just $5, we'd have enough for another house. Do you see how simple that is?! $5! Just 5 measly dollars. I know the economy's tight these days and every little bit counts, but 5 dollars is not a huge sacrifice so that someone can have a home.

Despite my excitement at how easy it would be to raise enough for 8 houses, I was a bit discouraged thinking about how simple it is, and how simple it would be for us to do SO MUCH GOOD around the world--nothing but nets, hope packs, new wells, vaccinations, food for families, shelter. If we did the $5 campaign for just one year and IF, yes I know it's a big if, but if everyone actually gave their $5 (just in our annual conference) we would raise $5.4 million dollars. How amazing would it be to do so much good in our world?! And that would just be us crazy liberals out in California and the beach dwellers of Hawaii.

On a final note, as I listened to General Conference the other day and thought about our fundraising, I had the hair-brained idea that each of our districts (throughout the denomination) should donate enough money to fund an entire house. Wouldn't that be incredible!?! The people of the United Methodist Church living what they believe, restoring devastated areas and all with just $5!

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