This is the story of Team Sweet Water: Faith Suprak, Jayden Soulier, Annie Thorsen, Elleigh Smith, Ely DeVries, and Jessica Parat- all LC/Evergreen 3rd-grade students, all game-changers on a mission. Their mission: “racing for water” in the Jr. Ski to Sea race. Not only would they participate in the Jr. Ski to Sea race for the first time ever, but they would give up their sweat to give the gift of clean drinking water to children they had never met, in a land they had never seen. Partnering with local non-profit, Evangeline International, these girls decided right away that they didn’t just want to fund “a little bit” of a hand-dug well…they wanted to go for the whole well! $4,200 might seem daunting to some adults, but to 8 and 9 year olds, it might as well be $420,000! That’s what I thought anyway. All it took was Faith saying, “let’s go for the WHOLE well.” Immediately, a collective “YES!” circled the room.
Most adults would agree that fundraising can be awkward and uncomfortable. But, fundraising, to kids, is fun…and creative…and social!! Team Sweet Water kicked off their fundraising efforts by sending out a letter to their families and friends telling them what they would be doing and asking them for their support in helping the team reach their goal. Although this was their main source of funding, it was just the beginning. Faith had the brilliant idea to leverage her baking talents for the cause by starting an “on-line bake-sale”. The other girls were encouraged by Faith’s immediate success, so they started another on-line bake-sale for the Bellinghamarea. With the help of moms, facebook, and a lot of generous people, the bake-sale brought in over $1,000! In addition to the support letters and bake-sale, Team Sweet Water made crafts and sold them at the Bellingham Farmer’s Market. Then there was a lemonade stand at the Evangeline Garage Sale. But, here’s the cool thing about their fundraising efforts. Usually, when kids are asked to fundraise for something, there’s usually a “prize” they win if they hit a certain goal, right? Team Sweet Water had a HUGE goal, but there was nothing tangible in it for them. Their effort would go entirely to improving the lives of other children that lacked the basic need of clean drinking water- something that is at our fingertips wherever and whenever we want it.
Their effort inspired a lot of people, and it landed them in the Bellingham Herald just before the race (which, of course, they LOVED!). An amazing thing happened because of this article in the paper. Just days before the article came out, Team Sweet Water made their goal of $4,200…..actually, they not only made it, they exceeded it! A day after the article came out, I received an email from a woman whom I have never met. These were her words: “We read about the fundraiser the girls are doing, and wonder if they have reached their goal to dig a well, or perhaps more? We would like to round up their numbers to dig a second well, if we may. We are tithing on a bit of inheritance and feel led to give to the project.” I about fell over in my chair!! I met with her 2 hours later, and she handed me a check for $4,000! Who does that?? God’s people, that’s who! Team Sweet Water was elated!
What an amazing journey. God heaped blessing on Team Sweet Water’s campaign. Because of their effort, these girls gave the gift of clean drinking water to 500 people inDandi,Ethiopia! A few days after the race, I flew toEthiopiaand met some of the very people that would benefit from the wells they funded. The people were astonished when I handed them a picture of Team Sweet Water and told them that these girls funded the wells that they would soon be drinking from. They couldn’t believe it.
Six girls on a mission to change the world. It’s one thing when adults get passionate about a cause, but it’s really a thing to behold when kids get fired-up about something and really go for it! And, just in case there was ever any doubt, we all know now that, “with God, all things are possible.” Amen to that!