By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The congregation at Colfax Lutheran has exceeded the goal set for fund-raising for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s Malaria Campaign in the half the time.
Church members set a goal of $2,000, and as of August of this year, after nine months of fund-raising, the church had already reached the goal, said Pastor Les Walck.
Pastor Walck said he thought it would have been more likely that it would take two years to reach the goal.
Malaria Campaign committee members included Sue Swanson, Jan Olson and Marge Hernandez.
Swanson, Hernandez and Pastor Walck attended an informational meeting in Menomonie about the campaign in May of 2013. The speaker was the bishop from the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Malawi.
“I was on the church council, and we get information all the time about different things that the ELCA is doing or that the church is doing. It was brought to my attention, and I wanted more information. Then they had the meeting in Menomonie, and then we decided to go see about that. It was just something that I wanted to be involved in,” Hernandez said.
The Colfax Lutheran committee decided to use the mosquito symbol included in the packet of information for the Malaria Campaign. The committee shrunk the 8.5 x 11 size “no mosquito” symbol down to 50-cent piece size.
Then Hernandez used the little symbols on her fund-raising progress chart — black and white for money donated in memory of each person and red and black and white for money donated in honor of someone. Each mosquito on the chart represented $10 given for the campaign, and Hernandez wrote the name of the person for whom the money was given in memory of or in honor of on the “no mosquito” symbol.
“I told my girls last Christmas that I didn’t need any presents and that if they wanted to do something for me, to donate money to the Malaria Campaign, and I’d be happy with that. So that’s what they did,” Hernandez said.
The ELCA has a goal of $15 million by 2015 for the Malaria Campaign. The Northwest Synod’s goal is $300,000.
The Northwest Synod covers the area from Superior to Black River Falls and from Hudson to Marshfield.
The ELCA’s Malaria Campaign has been in operation for about three years.
Joan Foris, the organist at Colfax Lutheran, gave presentations to the Bible School children in July of 2013 and to Sunday school children in September of that year.
Colfax Lutheran has been gathering “Noisy Offerings” as well for the Malaria Campaign. When the campaign first started, the Noisy Offering from children in the congregation was $53.90. Since then, Pastor Walck has been doing Noisy Offerings the second Sunday of each month.
Noisy Offerings are spare change placed in aluminum buckets.
“They are keeping on with the Noisy Offering now for other projects,” Hernandez said.
“In the beginning, the kids were passing the bucket. It’s pretty fun,” she said.
“When we went to set a goal, I thought we should do $2,000. Pastor Walck said that he was thinking of $1,000, and that $2,000 was a lofty goal. I said I wanted to leave the goal at $2,000. Then I figured out how we could chart it and keep track. A lot of places will do a thermometer. We came up with the mosquito idea. Each mosquito represents $10. I charted it out in columns with the amount at the top of each column,” Hernandez said.
Malaria, a mosquito-borne illness that begins with flu-like symptoms, is the leading cause of death in Africa.
Almost nine out of ten of the 655,000 people who die from malaria every year live in Africa, and most of them are young children, according to an informational flyer from the ELCA.
Malaria was eradicated from the United States in the 1950s, but more than one hundred other countries around the world are still fighting the disease.
An African child has on average between 1.6 and 5.4 episodes of malaria every year. In countries with high rates of infections, malaria accounts for 60 percent of health clinic visits, according to the flyer.
The flyer notes that $10 provides an insecticide-treated mosquito net and education to protect a family from malaria.
A $50 donation provides enough medicine to treat 25 people infected with malaria.
A $100 donation trains a village health team to help treat and prevent malaria.
A $250 donation provides enough medicine to prevent 125 women and their babies from contracting malaria during pregnancy.
On November 16, Pastor John Sutherland, an assistant to the bishop, will preach at Colfax Lutheran to thank the congregation for their help and their support of the Malaria Campaign.
All members of the community are invited to attend the November 16 church service.
Worship at Colfax Lutheran begins at 9:30 a.m.
Anyone who would like to donate to the Colfax Lutheran Malaria Campaign is welcome to send a check to Colfax Lutheran, P.O. Box 425, Colfax WI 54730. Write “Malaria Campaign” on the memo line of your check.