The Mennonite Central Committee relief sale is a more than a fundraiser for Alberta Mennonites, it is an anticipated social event. Creating an atmosphere of fellowship and common purpose, the annual sale unites Mennonites from LaCrete to Pincher Creek (a distance of 1,176 km) as well as inviting local communities to join the fun. On a 3 year rotation through Edmonton, Didsbury, and Coaldale, this year’s Didsbury event brought in more than $180,000 for the work of relief, peace, and development around the world.
Friday night’s auction opened with bidders competing for a quilt they could not take home. Spirited bidding for the “peace quilt” was accompanied by auctioneer quips, audience laughter, and gasps as the price climbed. Finally, there was a loud SOLD! as Rudy Wiens made a $2,200.00 donation to MCC. Wiens intends to display the quilt at Camp Valaqua this summer before it returns to MCC to be sold again next year. Wiens is a repeat camp volunteer who has warm friendships with staff and campers. Wiens is pleased to offer a listening ear and an encouragement to young people. “I connect well with the kids…they are ready to tell an 80 year old things,” he said.
For almost 40 years, John Wiebe’s welded art has raised thousands of dollars for relief work. The dove candle holder was inspired by well-known pastor Menno Epp (1932-2011). In the mid 90’s, Epp sent Wiebe a sketch of something he saw in Guatemala, asking if Wiebe could make it as an MCC project. Wiebe’s unique bookends, candle holders and other items can be found in many homes and churches across Alberta and beyond.
Pianist Phyllis Geddert remembers singing with her father when he asked her to “promise me that you will help people to remember the old songs,” she said. Ten years after he passed away, friends helped Geddert record favourite hymns from old Mennonite hymnals. Her condition was that any money raised would be donated to MCC in memory of her parents, Frank L. Friesen who always supported MCC, and Katherine Zacharias Friesen, one of the people who began the Thrift store in Morris, MB. The CD is entitled “Joyful.”
Two years ago, Bergthal Mennonite Church worked through MCC to sponsor a Syrian family, the Al Husseins, to come to Canada. On June 2, the family volunteered at the sale, wiping tables in the dining area and sorting coins. l-r, Nasayem, Delores Peters (Bergthal church), Mothana, Mariam, Jawaher, and Hatem. (Hatem was sponsored through the Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary.)
Josh Poland and Greg Sanderson of The Rosehill Auction Service pose with Bob Janzen. Sanderson, who grew up in the Didsbury area, said; “I love selling and helping people, it’s fun to watch their face when they’ve got something.” Poland was keen to donate his time to the sale saying; “Everybody knows where the money is going.”
3 years ago Joyce Doran was working for Ten Thousand Villages in Calgary when she heard Abe Janzen (then MCC AB director) share some of his stories. “I was so touched by the work that was being done and I knew it was an organization I wanted to get involved with.” Doran said. In April 2018, Doran began working as Thrift Shop Coordinator for MCC AB.
Sisters Irene Baergen (Edmonton), Hilda Baergen (Coaldale), Alice Klassen (Coaldale), and Margaret Froese (Canmore) have an 8 year old tradition of getting together to make a quilt for the sale. “The highlight is to get together and have a project and a cause,” said Irene. Pictured l-r are Irene Baergen and Hilda Baergen.
Doris Veirgutz made a double donation when she had her hair cut. “God has given me this long hair, I can donate it for wigs for people (Locks of Love) and raise money for MCC.” Stylist Brittany Derksen donated her talents to the effort.