Spare change once jangling in pockets and purses is being transformed into growing, learning, outdoor faith experiences for children who might not otherwise have them.
Told that Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly bookstore customers did not always take their change after making purchases — they felt it was not worth picking up — Dick Powell, president and CEO of the Synod of the Sun-related conference center, saw an opportunity.
Gathered together, those “expendable” pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters could be put to good use. Powell estimated that the spare change from the 42,000-plus guests who come to Mo-Ranch annually could make dreams possible. Every child in every Presbyterian-related children’s home in the synod — as well as students at Presbyterian Pan American prep school in Kingsville, Texas — could attend a camp or other event at Mo-Ranch each year.
“Study after study reports the positive impact a single week in a camp setting can have on a child,” says Powell. “A week of encouragement, accountability, nurture and love builds trust and self-esteem, and helps children see the world with new hope and confidence. The challenge is that many of the children in these institutions do not have the money to come to camp or a conference.”
So last summer Mo-Ranch started inviting guests to leave pocket change in coin envelopes provided in rooms. Congregations and Presbyterian Women’s groups around the synod were also invited to participate.
In amounts ranging from pennies to $10,000, Mo-Ranch’s Change for Children campaign raised $25,700 in about six months. For that amount, 45 boys and girls could attend weeklong camps at the conference center located 90 miles northwest of San Antonio in the Texas Hill Country.
And children are already benefiting from that “expendable” change.
“There are many lessons to be learned in such an inspirational environment,” wrote a group from the Presbyterian Children’s Home of Amarillo, which held a retreat at Mo-Ranch after receiving support from Change for Children. “What each and every one of us has learned during this very unique week will be used and taught to many others.”
JOHN SNIFFEN is director of communications and church relations, Presbyterian Mo-Ranch Assembly in Hunt, Texas. He formerly served as associate editor for both Presbyterians Today and The Presbyterian Outlook.