Have Raffle Will Travel by Jonathan Heidkamp

Have Raffle Will Travel by Jonathan Heidkamp

 

World Youth Day 2013 was only months away and our church group needed to raise $30,000 to complete the funding for the trip. Individually, we had been saving money or asking for donations from community members and co-workers, but this was our first big fundraising attempt.

I had the opportunity to be part of the committee to organize and execute the raffle event. We approached local businesses, telling them of our mission and asking if they could donate any prizes. We were fortunate to be surrounded by caring community members and received dozens of fantastic gifts and prizes. By the end of it, we had multiple $50-$100 gift cards to local stores, vouchers for free dinners at restaurants, and a couple of grand prizes such as a mini-motorcycle, an X-box 360 game set, and a 48" flatscreen that were all generously donated.

We were beside ourself with joy from the help of our committee and then set out to sell as many tickets as we could. We gave 100 tickets to each of the 50 members of our group and asked them to sell them for $10 each. We were encouraged by our community's response to our cause and had high hopes for our fundraiser. Unfortunately we fell short of out goal, but through the grace of God we still were able to raise $20,000. The raffle event itself was filled with fun and excitement, with youth bands playing music and some performing skits or plays.

While still needing $10,000, we were excited about our success and began planning another event to raise the final amount. Unexpectedly, through a way that can only be attributed to the grace of God, our pastor notified us that we had received an anonymous donation for the $10,000. No name, no note was left, but the entire congregation prayed in thanks for this miracle.

São Paulo here we come!

World Youth day was an amazing experience. It's an event that takes place every three years where catholic youth from the entire world congregate together to celebrate their faith with the Pope. For the youth in our parish, it was a great opportunity to meet and mingle with others who practice their faith and enable them to realize that there is a much larger community that they can use as support. For two weeks we traveled all over Brazil; seeing their massive hydro-electric damn that provides all the countries power, traveling to ancient monasteries and talking to the monks, and being in communion with the locals and being present in this experience.

For me, one of the most strongest impacts during the trip happened when we were provided shelter by local parishioners. They took us in, complete strangers, and opened their houses up to us. They fed us and fussed over us like mother hens; hens that did not speak a word of English. Their houses were made of brick and tin. The rooms tiny and furniture sparse. But for them, material goods meant nothing, they were only concerned with living by the gospel and trusting in God to provide. In them I found true happiness. It made me reflect on how concerned I was with accumulating stuff and how I was never satisfied. But living with these parishioners, I saw a better alternative, one that focused on giving yourself to the others.

The trip was an amazing experience and one that I will carry with me for life. As I am writing this, WYD 2016 is right around the corner and we are in the midst of fundraising again. Bolstered by our past experience, we are preparing another series of fundraising to allow another group to travel to Poland. And in the fore-front, we have an even bigger raffle ticket planned.

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Contributed by Jonathan Heidkamp

December 3, 2015

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