The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Dollar by dollar

... drives them toward New Orleans

Millions of dollars later, some 35,000 young people and adults will arrive in New Orleans later this month. But it takes more than a bus trip or airplane ride to get to the ELCA Youth Gathering. It takes planning, work, and congregational and community support — much of it financial.

In addition to the standard bake sale, youth groups continue to raise the fundraising creativity bar. Some even had time to respond to The Lutheran's request for their most unusual or successful fundraiser.

So, kids and youth leaders, once you return from Louisiana and set your sights on Gathering 2015, here are some success stories from this year.

Lutheran Church of the Nativity, Arden, N.C., ran a "Milepost Campaign." They labeled 150 green envelopes to look like mileposts on a road and taped them to a banner. Since donation amounts ranged from $1 to $150, "it provided an opportunity for all of our members, no matter what their financial situation, to take part," said Michele Grush. 

Eric (left) and Alex Schoenberg-Carton
Eric (left) and Alex Schoenberg-Carton and Mara and Kyler Roteliuk baked more than 200 cheesecakes (turtle was the most popular of the four varieties), with the help of their parents, to help them travel the 1,719 miles from Bread of Life Lutheran Church, Minot, N.D., to New Orleans. The cheesecakes were made in a Federal Emergency Management Agency trailer because the Schoenberg-Carton family lost their home in last year's flood.

The youth raised $6,000 during the three-week campaign. As each envelope was removed so money could be placed in it, a photo of youth holding a "thank you" sign was revealed.

Youth from Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, Mercer Island, Wash., began relating to New Orleans when they helped rebuild the Lakeview neighborhood in 2008 and the Broadmoor neighborhood in 2009. They held a silent auction that featured their own signed and framed photos from previous trips. This spring they also mailed tea bags to members, along with a letter "describing our upcoming mission/Gathering experience and inviting the recipient to relax with a cup of tea and write us a check," Kathy Fisher said.

Upon their return, the youth will tell their stories over beignets and coffee and host a concert featuring AGAPE (see "Singing a new song") to raise money for hunger.

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