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Church ‘passes the buck’ to reach out

Church ‘passes the buck’ to reach out

e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service

Church ‘passes the buck’ to reach out

Feb. 1, 2008  News media contact: Tita Parham*
800-282-8011  Orlando {0793}

An e-Review Feature
By Steven Skelley**

Even though the dollar doesn’t seem to go as far as it used to, members of Lake Panasoffkee United Methodist Church challenged themselves to see what a dollar could do to help others.

They were amazed with the results.

Twenty-seven members of Lake Panasoffkee United Methodist Church particpated in the church's Dollar Challenge, agreeing to use just $1 to help someone in their church or community. Their $27 leveraged more than $500 worth of goods and services. Photo courtesy of Lake Panasofkee United Methodist Church. Photo #08-0743.

The Rev. Warren Bennett says 27 members took the Dollar Challenge the first Sunday of September last year. Specifically, they were challenged to use one dollar to benefit others in either the church or community, “to think outside of the box and do something for others,” he said.

Bennett says the Dollar Challenge idea originated with Dr. Nido R. Quebein, president of High Point University, a United Methodist-affiliated school, in High Point, N.C. Quebein gave a pack of new dollar bills to each faculty member to spread in the community. Bennett’s sister, Dr. Barbara Leonard, is one of the faculty and shared the idea with Bennett and his wife, Bonnie, who led the challenge at the church.

“This has been a great eye-opener for many,” Bonnie Bennett said. “Everyone, regardless of age, financial or physical issues, has something to offer another person. Look at what God has accomplished just through $1 bills.”

Each person who took the challenge put a dollar bill to use — 27 dollar bills, 27 uses. Bennett says the $27 leveraged more than $500 worth of goods and services.

Among the things the Dollar Challengers were able to do included purchasing:
  * Sign material for 10-year-old Ryan Butzer-Collines to advertise his yard sale, which raised funds to make 125 “Jesus Loves You” bumper stickers that he gave away at a local McDonald’s, at his Boy Scouts meetings and in his neighborhood;

  * Gas for an elderly neighbor so she could make it to a used-tire store to replace a tire;

  * A long distance phone call to H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa to learn patient needs, which resulted in members making 12 caps for patients and purchasing books for the waiting room;

  * Note cards that were sent to a cancer patient to show her she is loved;

  * Freezer bags in which people could place the extra serving of dinner they cooked to be given to people they know who are ill or alone;

  * Pumpkin seeds that were given to elementary school children with the hope the children and their parents could make their own pumpkin patch together; and

  * Play money to create stickers that read, “4 free hot dogs, 4 free bags of popcorn, and 4 free sodas,” and were used to invite people to the church’s free Friday night movie program.

Butzer-Collines made the “Jesus Loves You” bumper stickers with the hope that message would be carried on cars throughout the United States. He said he got the idea when he saw a car drive past with a bumper sticker.

Butzer-Collines went to a local printer, explained his idea, negotiated a price and designed the bumper sticker. The printer told him he would need $125 for his 125-bumper sticker goal, so he used his dollar-challenge dollar to purchase poster board, which he made into yard sale signs. His yard sale earned the $125 he needed.

Butzer-Collines and his grandmother Theresa Nitz went to McDonald’s and got permission to hand the free bumper stickers to patrons.

“I had never given a lot of thought about what you could really accomplish with so little money,” Nitz said. “It was amazing what some people came up with. It was motivating.”

Joyce Gordon used her dollar to make prayer bears for people after reading about them in a United Methodist children’s curriculum. When people were sick or stressed she gave them a bear and told them she was praying for them.

“People really appreciated it and responded in a positive way,” she said. “One person put it on top of her computer monitor where it could remind her that someone cared, and it is still there today.”

“It doesn’t take much money to show people you care,” she said.

“Hopefully, what these dollars have accomplished will be a reminder that anything is possible, even when we think we have very little to offer,” Bennett said.


*Parham is managing editor of e-Review Florida United Methodist News Service.
**Skelley is a freelance writer based in Beverly Hills, Fla.