With leadership from children and youth, members of Wilshire Baptist Church gave about $12,500 to the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger on Palm Sunday.
That sets a new record for a hunger offering at Wilshire and puts the church within reach of exceeding its previous annual total in hunger giving before the year is half passed.
The offering increase was sparked by a finance committee decision to use 10 percent of the overage from last year’s ministry fund as seed money for the hunger offering.
The church set aside $4,000 in $20 bills for distribution to any child or teenager willing to take the money and either multiply it, keep it safe or use it in direct local ministry to the hungry.
On Super Bowl Sunday, the missions committee distributed $2,440 in $20 bills to 122 children and youth who agreed to participate in the challenge.
That investment came back multiplied many times over, not only by the actions of children and youth, but also by other Wilshire members who were inspired by the cause and contributed to the offering.
In previous years, Wilshire had sponsored a soup luncheon on Super Bowl Sunday and asked members to donate to the hunger offering rather than paying for the soup. When ongoing construction and renovation at the church facility made that event impractical this year, the church’s missions and finance committees worked together to create the seed money challenge as a hunger offering fund-raiser. And it more than doubled the highest amount ever raised through the Souper Bowl of Caring event.
That coincided with an increased emphasis from the Baptist General Convention of Texas on its Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.
News of this success especially was rewarding for Wilshire member Carolyn Strickland, first vice president of the BGCT and widow of Phil Strickland, who as director of the Christian Life Commission led in creating the Texas Baptist Offering for World Hunger.
“The united effort at Wilshire to support the hunger offering is a blessing beyond measure,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’ve mentioned about the missions committee handing over $20 to individual youth to decide on how they will make it grow to feed the hungry. Being led by children to invest in the lives of others is just short of being led by the Spirit of God, in my book.”
In some cases, siblings or classmates combined their $20 bills to do something big. For example, the 11th grade Sunday school class held a bake sale one Sunday morning and turned $100 into more than $400.
Josh Bonar and his brother, Zac, combined efforts. “My brother and I put our money together and got donations of clothes and furniture to sell in a garage sale. We also bought some Cokes and sold them for 50 cents each. We made $156.”
The Nadalini brothers — Taubert, Travis, Austin and Alex — also worked as a team. They wrote: “Rather than growing our money and putting it in the offering plate on Palm Sunday, we grew our money from $100 to $120 with the help of a generous Wilshire member who heard how we were using our money. We then gave our money to an 80-year-old woman (who) needed money for groceries.”
Friends Bryn Anderson, Ryan Meazell and Sean Swift engaged all three of their families in a joint project to host a party at a business that offers a variety of inflatable bounce houses. They explained: “We sent an invitation to our friends and invited them to come to Pump-It-Up to jump and play and then have pizza, cookies and lemonade. For a donation of $12, the parents could drop their kids off for two hours. Pump-It-Up kept $4 of every $12, so we kept $8 of every $12 donated. We used our $20 to buy cookies, lemonade, plates, cups and napkins. We had a great time and raised $315.”
Brothers Drew and Mitchell Easley cooperated to meet a local need. “We pooled our money to buy 40 boxes of macaroni and cheese and 25 cans of tuna. We then delivered them to the White Rock Center of Hope and even stayed a bit to stuff grocery bags.”
Joel Spreier hosted a Sunday afternoon football game and meal at his home, an event he called “Hotdogs for the Hungry,” which he promoted on Facebook. He used his $20 to buy supplies, then charged friends $5 each to attend. He raised more than $100.
Several children used their $20 to buy candy in bulk and then sell it to friends at school.
“I kept on buying boxes of candy,” said Karlee Langley. “I took the candy to my daycare, my family and my street. Out of the all this, my total amount of money that I raised was $62. I am very proud of myself because I am now feeding the hungry.”
Shelby Patterson also sold the candy to friends after school. “Some of my friends paid more than a dollar for the candy because they knew it was for a good cause,” she said.
Christopher Granberry took his $20 to the grocery store and bought ingredients to make banana bread and cinnamon rolls. He sold his baked goods at his dad’s workplace for $109.75.
Harper McKenzie developed her own line of designer rocks. “I painted rocks and sold them. I painted inspirational words and pictures on the rocks. I painted almost 40 rocks. I started with $20 and ended with $201.”
Mark Wingfield is the associate pastor of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.