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PUC Booth Invites GC Visitors to Give

Larry Pena and Julie Z Lee, September 1, 2010
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At the Seventh-day Adventist General Conference session in Atlanta this summer, visitors to the Pacific Union College exhibit booth were confronted with a tough decision. They had to choose between donating money to an organization that mentors children in California, providing shoes for families in Ethiopia, or building a village in Nicaragua. 

"They are all such good causes!" said one visitor to the booth. "I don't know how to choose!"

Some wanted to give to all three charities—a generous spirit that was helped by the fact that PUC was giving them the money to donate. For this General Conference PUC eschewed the usual giveaways that dominate convention exhibits and allocated $5,000 for student ministries instead. The decision of how to distribute the money was left in the hands of visitors, who were given wooden tokens that could be dropped into one of three boxes representing the ministries. At the end of the 10-day session, PUC would count the tokens, each representing 50 cents, and then write checks to the student ministries for the amounts collected.

The project fits in with a culture of giving and volunteerism that is deeply ingrained at PUC. "It's just another example of how PUC has this mission—that our students leave here with integrity and a passion to serve. And when I hear it in our current students and see it in our graduates, it just says we're realizing our mission," says Lisa Bissell Paulson, vice president for student services. "Service is a big deal here because our students make it a big deal."

The three projects featured at the General Conference are favorites of the PUC community:

  • KidzReach is a local community volunteer project run almost entirely by PUC students. Volunteers spend their Sabbaths with Napa Valley children whose parents are in prison. The volunteers provide breakfast and lunch, take the children to church, play with them in the park, and generally provide the kids with stable, concerned adult role models.
  • REVO is a student-led ministry that supports a different charity project each year through a series of fundraisers and awareness campaigns. This year students took on the disease podoconiosis, a debilitating foot disease that is especially prevalent in Africa among people that cannot afford proper footwear—charity dollars went to provide shoes and medical treatment in Ethiopia.
  • Developing Communities, Inc. is an organization of volunteers committed to making life better for the residents of a small community in Nicaragua. The organization is led by PUC alum Jake Scheideman, who came down with giardia while visiting the town and was nursed back to health. When Hurricane Mitch devastated Empalme de Boaco years later, Jake began helping the locals rebuild. After 12 years, Developing Communities has provided the town with a baseball field, a public park, a water tower, a new housing development, and a high school.

By the session's end, people had given nearly 8,000 tokens, distributing 7,830 tokens amongst the three ministries. KidzReach received the most money with $1,421.50; REVO came in second with $1,279; and Developing Communities followed with $1214.50.