Rev Norman Hogg, from Rockingham Uniting Church, shares how he and his wife, Freda, successfully raised $10 000 over Lent for the Uniting Church in Australia’s National Disaster Relief Fund to support people affected by Australia’s recent devastating bushfire season.
The terrible bushfires of this past summer inspired our fundraising over Lent. With daily visions of houses burning, livestock and native animals being incinerated, people fleeing flames and fire fighters racing into the same, we felt compelled to give generously to help others.
Because of the massive losses and needs, our pittance seemed so small. As aged pensioners, we began to explore how we could multiply our limited donation. My wife Freda, being an amazing cook and an incredibly creative person, came up with the idea of making Easter eggs with a difference. So began our attempt to turn $1 000 into $10 000 that might help make a difference.
In mid-January, we set about making and selling 1 100 candy filled, decorated, Caster Sugar Easter Eggs, and give all the proceeds to the Uniting Church National Disaster Relief Fund to be used to provide long term mental health support for bushfire victims.
It took eight weeks, working eight to ten hours a day to reach our goal. The moulded eggs came in a huge variety of pastel and bright colours, and three sizes: small, medium and large. Each half was scooped out, filled with chocolates and sweets, glued together and piped around with icing sugar. When dry, they were decorated with home-made icing sugar flowers in a multitude of colourful designs.
With the eggs all neatly wrapped and displayed in cartons of twelve they looked a treat and very saleable.
Storage became a problem as the boxes multiplied. Higher and higher the stacks grew until the bottom boxes started to crumble under the weight. Nine flat-bed trollies had to be made to enable us to move the masses around.
With all in place, we were very fortunate to be able to sell our eggs at our local Coles and Spud Shed stores courtesy of very helpful managers. With COVID-19 on shopper’s minds, toilet paper seemed more important than our Easter eggs. Early on we sold very few eggs each day.
Sales, however, picked up in the third week and our spirits lifted. Alas, COVID-19 social distancing became mandatory and brought our sales to an abrupt end two weeks before Easter.
When the toilet paper frenzy was at its highest, we bought a large pack to give away. We wrapped single rolls in different coloured tissue paper with tops beautifully tied with fancy ribbon bows as a bonus gift for spending $20 or more.
You should have seen the faces and heard the laughter when recipients squeezed the gift.
Remarkably, with 175 unsold eggs in our hands and many more as yet unsold with others, we began the task of counting proceeds coming from a variety of sales outlets through several very kind folk. We passed the $6 000 mark, then $7 000. In came $1 200 from a wonderful lady who promoted them on her Facebook page and we were over $8 000. By Wednesday of Holy Week we were still $600 below our target.
With 132 eggs on our hands and little hope of selling more, we gave 53 to residents in a wing of the Bethanie Waters Aged Care Facility where Freda had worked as a volunteer for five years prior to our marriage.
Come Maundy Thursday, several people came to buy eggs. Other bits and pieces rolled in and by Easter Sunday we were up to $9 852. Amazing! We were so close.
Then, believe it or not, two days later we sold four more, bringing our total up to $9 892. It was time to dip our hands into the original float we had set for sales to bring it up to $10 000.
It was a team effort with thanks to many helpers that we reached our goal.
With the COVID-19 pandemic, we couldn’t have picked a worse year to do it. Thanks be to God for enabling grace, persistence and courage to put into action Jesus’ parable of the Talents.
Rockingham Uniting Church has been very supportive with previous fund-raising efforts for eye research at The Lions Eye Institute and Wheelchairs for Kids Inc, we wanted the congregation to own this effort and pray that the money will be used to support people struggling with mental health issues because of recent bushfires; helping people who are crying out in anguish, feeling helpless and hopeless.
With all this in mind it was our joy to have the $10 000 transferred in the name of Rockingham Uniting Church to the Uniting Church in Australia National Disaster Relief Fund.
Our fundraising efforts really got under way as a result of being challenged by reflecting on the story of Jesus rejection on his return to Nazareth. How in Luke 4:15-30, when invited to read the scriptures, Jesus chose Isaiah 61: 1 and 2, and went on to proclaim his ministry manifesto.
Luke, in his gospel, illustrates how Jesus put these words into action by healing the blind, the deaf, and the lame, and setting prisoners free.
In our age, metaphorically speaking, doing so is within the reach of everyone. Speaking personally, we have chosen to heal the blind by donating generously to eye research at the Lions Eye Institute here in Perth. Similarly, by supporting Wheel Chairs for Kids, children living with disabilities around the world are being transformed together with their families.
As aged pensioners with a limited income, lots of time on our hands, a vision in our hearts and simple basic skills and abilities, fundraising has multiplied our ability to give more than ever we thought possible. Our fundraising activities, in addition to Easter eggs have included jam, chutneys, pickles, preserves, cakes, biscuits, sweets, fruit pies, nuts and bolts and more.
Freda and I have found great blessing in being able to give by challenging ourselves, setting targets and thinking of creative ways within our capacity to meet our goal. We are daily proving it is more blessing to give than receive.