The M&M’s Challenge

How one spirited youth group in Florida raised the funds to sponsor a child.

“M&M’s Minis can change a child’s life!” That was the message we told our youth group as we passed out tubes of mini M&M’s. “Together, we can change Quyen’s life.”

Sponsoring a child through Holt International is new to us. Then again, everything about our youth group is new. My wife is the youth leader, and I am the pastor. Together, we serve New Beginnings Community Church in Palm City, Florida. Our church never had a youth program until a year ago, when we launched a middle school youth discipleship program called “Anchor” for kids ages 11-14.

We were only a few months into our Anchor program when we attended the Winter Jam concert in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. During the concert, Holt gave a presentation about how sponsorship can change a child’s life, and before the presentation was over, Shelby — a 14-year-old in our youth group — was making her way down to the arena floor to find a child to sponsor from among the sponsorship packets displayed on the Holt table. She returned with a card and picture of Quyen from Vietnam, eager to show her off to the others in our group. Quyen is 9 years old and lives with her grandmother. Her mother left her, and her two sisters, in the care of their grandmother when Quyen was only a year old. When we read Quyen’s story, we agreed that we would sponsor Quyen as an Anchor youth group.

My wife and I felt it was important for our youth to take responsibility and stewardship of their sponsored child. We didn’t want our sponsored child to be another mission that the church supported. Rather, we wanted Quyen to be “our mission.” So, after a few months of encouraging our youth to bring in a few dollars every time we met, we decided to give them the M&M’s Challenge.

We can’t remember where we got the idea, but we knew it to be an effective fundraiser from when we had used it with a previous youth group. We gave each of the kids in our youth group three plastic tubes of M&M’s Minis, which they snacked on while we discussed our lesson. Then we gave them the challenge — to fill the empty M&M’s tubes with quarters. Each tube can hold 20 dollars in quarters. Three tubes of quarters can sponsor a child for two months.

“That’s two months Quyen will be able to enjoy the basic things of life that we take for granted,” we told them.

We encouraged them to go home and collect quarters from their parents, friends, school teachers and neighbors. My wife and I made copies of Quyen’s picture and info so our youth could go door to door in their neighborhood asking for quarters to support their sponsored child. Even now, I have two M&M’s tubes on my desk, one filled with quarters, another with dollar bills. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that our youth are discovering the blessing of sponsoring a child, and that through their combined efforts, they are truly changing a child’s life.

Pastor John & Donna Bartz | Palm City, Florida

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