With the worsening humanitarian situation in Ukraine burdening their hearts, the Bowmanville Archers Pathfinders Club of 15 youth, six staff, and many supportive parents, decided to do something to help.
“The staff discussed posing the question of help needed in Ukraine and for the refugees. As we discussed, we didn’t want the leadership to decide. We knew that the youth have a variety of skills, talents, and interests. We decided to share our concern with them. We wanted the youth to be involved,” shares Amanda Matthews, the club director.
As the club discussed the situation in Ukraine, the conversation enlarged to encompass all refugees and displaced people in the world. They grappled with the question: “What can we do to make a difference?”
The initial desire was to send the items that refugees and displaced people surely needed. However, the logistical difficulties of accomplishing that were brought up. Raising funds was quickly realized as the best modality of helping people who needed it most, wherever they were located. Funds were much easier to send. Organizations like ADRA could be much nimbler and more relevant in their response to crises with money rather than shipments of items from far away.
The youth were completely on board with organizing a fundraiser. The club examined their gifts and talents. Not wanting to impose an idea or solution, the leaders opened the floor for brainstorming together until the youth struck on a plan. With the existing love and talent for baking among the youth, it was decided to host a bake sale. All the proceeds from the sales would go towards ADRA’s work with refugees and people displaced by crises.
In the lead up to the bake sale, the club members went door to door, inviting community members to their bake sale and the opportunity to support those in need. This was not the first time the youth had reached out to the community. They were building on previous efforts to forge a relationship with community members.
On the day of the bake sale, around 95% of people who attended the event were from the community. The Pathfinders were amazed as they recognized community members with whom they had personally spoken and invited to the event. One Pathfinder was heard to exclaim, “Look! Those are the people I invited! They came!” Connecting with the people in Bowmanville while helping those affected by the war in Ukraine is deepening the ties between the church and the community.
The youth were very excited as they welcomed their guests and manned the tables arrayed with various delectable baked goods. There were also pamphlets and tracts on well-being, mental health, and nutrition. The club members found themselves in many conversations, answering questions not only about ADRA and its work but also about their club, their church, and themselves.
Most of the people who attended expressed gratitude for the event and for the opportunity to provide support where it was needed most. Many people intentionally overpaid for their baked goods, confident that it would be put to good use to help others.
By the end of the day, the youth expected that they had raised around $300. They were not prepared for the final tally. In two and a half hours, they had raised $1,341! They were bowled over by surprise and joy.
The Bowmanville Seventh-day Adventist Church’s mission statement is, “Connect with God, Connect with Others, Connect Others with God.” The Archers Pathfinders experienced first-hand how this paradigm works together.
“We talk to the Pathfinders and tell them that it doesn’t matter what age we are, we can make a difference. We talk about how witnessing and service go greater together. Witnessing opportunities and acts of service are a blessing to others,” explains Amanda. “And it doesn’t have to be a grand scheme. If we make our gifts and talents available to God to use, He will. Nothing returned to the Lord will come back void. We can be like a match to a flame.
As we continue to have a willing heart to serve our fellow man, making ourselves and our talents available to God to use, His love will spill over to others. Then they, too, can have a far-reaching effect on humanity’s link to heaven. May God use the fruits of this labour to bless the Ukrainians who have been displaced, and all those who have been affected by the strains of war.”