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Monday, October 3, 2016

Oh What A Relief! Annual Event Has Raised Millions For Mennonite Central Committee

Virginia Relief Sale celebrated its 50th year with a record crowd this weekend
I'm always amazed at the success of this well planned event, one made possible by scores of dedicated volunteers to benefit MCC, a worldwide relief and service organization. This has been happening annually for fifty years now, first at Paul Wenger's farm near Waynesboro, then at Augusta's Expoland, and more recently, at the Rockingham Fairground nearby.

The Friday evening through Saturday celebration provides a veritable feast of food, fellowship and fundraising, highlighted by the sale of handcrafted quilts and other items that bring hundreds together for bidding and buying for a common cause.

One could question whether this is quite what Jesus had in mind when he urged his followers to forsake all and to sell what they have to give to the poor, but we do know that he enjoyed getting together for a good feast every now and then. And maybe his parable about some trusted servants being given time and talents to produce profits for their master could be used to support this kind of effort.

Perhaps the best way to discern whether relief sales provide the right kind of relief to the right kind of people would be have a group of Syrian refugees attend the event and offer their suggestions.

I did think of one innovation for future planners. Why not have a table somewhere for people to just give a generous donation directly to MCC? Of course one can do that at the event now, but a "Massive Cash Campaign" could be promoted with the aim of doubling the total amount of money raised.

This idea might be especially appealing to those of us who don't really want to pile on too many more calories, even for a good cause, or to take home too many more items to add to our accumulation of earthly treasures. And in doing this kind of giving we could offer more direct help to people who suffer from a serious lack of food, shelter and warm quilts.

Or maybe we should bring more of our own surplus treasures out of our closets and our garages and bring them together for a giant sell-all auction But then maybe that's what our local Gift and Thrift Store is for, another fine local enterprise set up to support MCC.

Meanwhile, I'm already looking forward to next year's Mennonite relief Sale, where we could raise a cool $1,000,000, three times our present amount.

Another fine fundraiser for MCC
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