A number of people glanced over as they passed the elderly woman working in her front lawn. She had finished planting flowers in the garden and was now struggling to plant a sapling to replace a tree felled by a wind storm the previous summer.
“Can I help you?” offered a young man stopping in front of her house.
She gratefully handed him the spade and he made short work of digging a hole. After dragging the three-metre sapling into place and replacing the soil, he began tamping it in place while ensuring the tree was properly positioned.
“I live down the street,” he said as he finished the task. “I remember you helping my friend’s families and babysitting some of my friends over the years. If there is anything else I can do to help you, I would be honoured.”
A healthy community is one in which people choose to assist their neighbours and benefit from the generous assistance of others in return. We build community in our neighbourhoods, in our churches, and in our schools and universities. Many Christians also build community at Bible camps. Which Bible camp has been a neighbour to you over the years by giving spiritual guidance to you, your children or grandchildren? In return, are you in a position to be a good neighbour by providing volunteer time or funding for the projects the camp is working on to improve its ministry now and into the future?
Many of us may not have a flexible time schedule that would allow us to volunteer during the busy summer camping months. However, we can still provide support with our prayers and financial assistance. Depending on the camp, financial assistance could take the form of donations to the general ministry fund, to camper sponsorship funds that allow underprivileged children to attend summer camp, or to support summer staff who would be encouraged by some additional finances to help towards their education costs over the coming winter.
Like the sapling that will provide shade for years to come, a new building at your local camp or a contribution to a camp development fund can reap long-term benefits for the ministry. These types of projects benefit from gifts that may be larger than a typical annual cash donation. Donors might consider providing a larger gift like an in-kind gift of appreciated stocks or mutual fund shares, or a bequest from an estate.
Mennonite Foundation of Canada (MFC) has more than 40 years of experience helping individuals support their favourite local and national charitable ministries by the means that make the most sense for their particular financial situation. MFC staff can explain the financial benefits and assist with donating appreciated publicly traded shares or mutual funds. We also assist individuals with charitable estate planning. Contact an MFC office to find out more.
Harold Penner is a stewardship consultant at Mennonite Foundation of Canada, serving generous people in Manitoba and Saskatchewan. For more information on impulsive generosity, stewardship education, and estate and charitable gift planning, contact your nearest MFC office or visit MennoFoundation.ca.