East Holbrook Mennonite Church, Cheraw, Colorado, is a small rural congregation with a big heart. Darlene Coffield helped the congregation expand its world awareness and also empowered the group to respond to world needs through the relief sale Penny Power project in 2004.
Beginning the last Sunday in July, Darlene introduced the coin collection with a children's story using MCC information highlighting the great need for access to clean water in various parts of the world. To encourage weekly giving, Darlene gave small metal buckets to each family in the congregation. She encouraged the families to "pay" for the buckets after four weeks; this amount was added to the donation and the families could then keep the buckets as a reminder of their special project and for future use. Each family received a weekly list with suggestions of how many coins to drop into the bucket each day. Darlene started with the suggestions from the 28 day "MCC WaterWorks Giving Calendar" such as "Over 1 billion people do not have access to clean water to drink. Give 10 cents for every glass of water you have today." After day 28, ahe created her own giving suggestions. Some examples: Day 74 - Did you remember to pray for those in our church family with special health concerns? For each one remembered, donate 10 cents; for those forgotten, 15 cents is due. Day 75 - Donate one penny for each year of your age.
Each week families brought their buckets carrying coins and bills to church and poured them into a large bucket. After October 10, the coins were taken to the bank and converted into a check to be delivered to the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Relief Sale, October 16, 2004.
The congregation chose "The River of Life" as its water theme song and sang it every week after Darlene's "MCC Special Report." Darlene's spouse, Tom, made a display with a never-ending supply of water flowing from an outdoor faucet head into a bucket. Later he added a sprinkling can with running water. They plugged in the displays each Sunday and let them run during Sunday School and the worship service.
Periodically they added flowers and greenery to the displays to symbolize the congregation growing in God's love. Small items, such as a roller head washing machine, an outhouse, and a windmill, were used to show how blessed we are to have clean running water. Each week Darlene updated a chart on the wall that showed the increasing total contribution toward clean water. This small congregation collected $1,041.97 for the Penny Power water project! What a difference they're making by sharing the blessing of access to clean water with those who need it and by learning about how people live in other parts of the world!