Sterling Sourk essay
I belong to a Church youth group in Phoenix, Arizona. The Teen and Young Adult League (we call ourselves TYAL) puts on fundraisers at my church, and also volunteers at local valley charities like Feed my Starving Children, St. Vincent DePaul, and Andre House. Ss. Peter and Paul Orthodox church had no concrete youth group until 5 years ago. When a friend started a youth group, it was not only beneficial for the young people in the group, but it also boosted my parish’s local morale. This new wave of optimism guided people to donate and become more involved in the social work of the church. Since the inception of TYAL, my church has started an annual Christmas gift and food drive for low-income housing adjacent to the premises, and has also gotten out of a usual deficit that occurred in the summer due to air conditioning costs.
The most donation-generating project my youth group puts on is the annual Christmas Party. Usually on the 2nd saturday in December, the TYAL invites residents from the adjacent low-income housing complex to gather in the parish hall for a Christmas party. At the party, we distribute gifts for the guests and make lots of food for everyone! We sing christmas carols and St. Nicholas makes a appearance. Later in the day, parishioners deliver a box with a ham, potatoes, vegetables, and other food to each resident’s doorstep. It’s a really amazing event that’s fun to be part of it, but it requires a lot of money to bring it to fruition.
The fundraising and planning for the Christmas Party starts in mid-November. Usually, the youth group kids will cook and serve a fundraiser brunch. We also directly ask the parish for funding to buy presents and food. We check in with the residents in the low-income complex and see how many people there are, and also the ages of the children. We ask them what they want for Christmas and do our best to accommodate. While the youth themselves don’t have a lot to donate, we work hard to bring in revenue for project Christmas Party. The first time we did so, people were generous. The leaders of the youth group, who are young adults, used their savvy to make sure that the donors and parish knew that our youth group requesting funding had good plans to host a great project. We’ve had this project 3 times and we’re going on our fourth year. Each time, our unique blend of fundraising techniques has proven effective; every year the youth group has received more than needed.
What my youth group’s Christmas Party project has shown me is that many people are willing and even enthused to donate if they can see that their money will be used for a visibly beneficial project for a cause close to their hearts. Because the low-income housing residents are 100 feet away from us on Sundays, the matter is close to heart. Because we bring the residents to our church to give them presents and share food and conversation, the project has visible benefits. Another reason, to be totally honest, is that my youth group had good branding. In a church where the majority of parishioners are over 55, our youth group represented rejuvenation of the church. The youth group made this know with our fundraising brunches and a corkboard that we installed in the parish hall to post pictures and announcements solely related to TYAL. We did our best to make people want to give, and let people know that there would be a greatly charitable return on the money they donated.
My work with my church’s youth group showed me that fundraising means more than requesting donations. I’ll be going to college next year and that means that I won’t be a member of the youth group that I joined at its creation. The youth group means a lot to me, as it did to other members, and we made this known throughout the parish. Parishioners were pleased to give to a young, united, and effective group. Our fundraising is able to help a lot of people, but only because we use our good image and collective thinking to bring in the necessary money.