by Jay Wintermeyer
SPOKANE, Wash. — Adventists in Upper Columbia Conference (UCC) raised more than $149,900 during January and February to help Haitian earthquake survivors.
UCC has more than 25,000 members in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and northeastern Oregon. Throughout the conference children and adults held bake sales, took up special offerings and gave personal funds to provide relief.
The special relief project was born when Tri-city Pathfinders groups and Patty Marsh, UCC's community services and disaster response director felt impressed to invite others to get involved.
When Patty Marsh first heard about Haiti’s deadly earthquake, her heart went out to the families affected by the incredible disaster.
“What can I do to help?” Marsh remembers thinking. “That thought grew to…what can UCC do to help?”
“I’ve worked in the educational realm most of my life, and recognize the power of children, and the importance of including them in such a response,” Marsh said.
To do so, Marsh enlisted the assistance of Wayne Hicks, UCC Pathfinder director, and her husband, Larry D. Marsh, UCC’s vice-president of education.
“We thought it was important to work together, and provide UCC members a way to make a difference, by donating their money to Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA),” Marsh continued.
On Thursday, January 14, two days after the earthquake hit, the three e-mailed a letter to individuals, leaders, and parents involved in children’s ministry, as well as pastors, Adventist educators, church officials, and Pathfinder and Adventurers leaders.
“Our hearts are aching,” the letter read. “Let’s pull together the efforts of our children and teens…to combine their energy and talents to send a gift to ADRA for the Haitian recovery.”
The letter encouraged parents and leaders to discuss the disaster with their children, asking them, “How can we make a difference?” It also offered several suggestions of activities that children and adolescents could do to raise money for the response.
Members in Upper Columbia responded enthusiastically. They gave more than $119,000 to ADRA for disaster relief. In addition, on February 6, UCC churches took up a special offering totaling more than $30,000 to help rebuild Adventist churches and schools in Haiti.
“When, as Christians, we see pain and suffering, such as the Haiti earthquake, we have two choices,” said Marsh. “We can either turn our heads, or we can respond. I would have been delighted with $5,000,” shared Marsh. However, Marsh said that she is “very thankful that Upper Columbia was privileged to play a part in feeding the hungry, giving water to the thirsty…and providing shelter for those homeless in Haiti.”