This year didn’t play out the way anyone thought it would. The danger of the coronavirus meant a lot of events planned across Canada couldn’t proceed as planned. Thanks to the incredible work and ingenuity of staff and volunteers and your dedicated support, a number of events creatively adapted to the conditions and found new ways to thrive.
Online quilt auction exceeds expectations
Since its inception in 1967, The New Hamburg Mennonite Relief Sale has brought thousands to the Ontario town to bid on one-of-a-kind handmade quilts, peruse dozens of local vendors and raise money to support the work of MCC around the world.
This year, it was clear that the regular spring and fall relief sales were not going to look the same as previous years. Ken Ogasawara, MCC Ontario communications content specialist, said the undertaking to hold the events online paid off in a big way, but it was no small amount of work.
“You’re basically creating a whole TV show,” he said. “With all the details about each item you need, showing the bidders live, having the auctioneers responding to everyone, and keeping that all moving smoothly—we had a great team and a lot of help and they all did a great job.”
This online-only auction meant bidders were not limited to those in New Hamburg, but people could participate from anywhere in the world. The average price quilts sold for this year nearly doubled that of 2019’s relief sale. And the 2020 auction total of $120,000 outpaced the in-person auction total at the 2019 and 2018 events.
All green lights with Festival To-Go
For 50 years, MCC supporters from all around the Fraser Valley in British Columbia have gathered once a year for the MCC Festival for World Relief. The relief sale sees around 12,000 people perusing a huge selection of local vendors and purchasing handmade quilts, plants and delicious treats.
It looked like the September celebration would be “driving on a flat,” but an innovative solution put air back in the event’s tires.
Turning the whole event into a drive-thru allowed the revamped MCC Festival To-Go to proceed. Hopeful MCC supporters signed up for a slot to pick up as many portions of vereniki (cottage cheese perogies) and farmer sausage, watermelon and rollkuchen (deep-fried savoury pastry), or portzelky (New Year’s cookies) as they wanted. All from the safety of their own vehicles!
From 3:00 in the afternoon until 7:00 in the evening, as many as 100 vehicles an hour arrived for their preplanned pickup as volunteers diligently worked to fill the orders.
Shelley Dueck, church relations and events manager for MCC British Columbia, said the event would never have succeeded without their committed volunteers.
“The Festival To-Go was a fun and creative way to engage with our constituency in this unique year,” says Dueck. “We are thankful for our fantastic volunteers who collectively served 1,500 meals and helped keep the festival spirit alive while serving in the name of Christ.”
100 km for 100 years
Like many of us, the Goertzen family had a long list of plans for 2020 before the realities of a global pandemic set in.
Normally, Heather, along with her daughters Maeve, 7, and Anaïs, 3, would have cheered on their dad, Wes, as he biked at Cycle Clear Lake, an annual MCC fundraising event in Manitoba. The family also had planned to grab a bite of pie and look at the handmade quilts for sale at the Brandon MCC Relief Sale in the fall. When the two annual fundraising events were cancelled, Heather and her family decided they weren’t going to park their bikes in the garage just yet.
On a hot day in July, the Goertzens set out to collectively cycle 100 km, one for each of MCC’s 100 years of service, as part of the GO! 100 campaign. They saddled up and, with the promise of ice cream at the finish line, biked from Boissevain, Man., to Ninga, Man., and back, a total of 120 km between the four of them. They successfully completed their ride with only one minor crash and two casual skunk sightings, neither of which resulted in anyone being sprayed.
“We wanted to have a bit of family challenge, for a good cause is even better,” said Heather Goertzen. They’d hoped to raise $1,000, but with the help of their church community, the family raised more than $4,000 to help vulnerable people affected by the pandemic.
Doughnut Day brings in the dough for MCC
Whether your favourite is New Year’s cookies, doughnuts, rollkuchen or something else, a variety of puffy, fried dough treats are the sugary lifeblood of any MCC relief sale. With so many relief sales postponed or moved online, the question on everyone’s lips was “But how will I get my relief sale snacks this year?”
On June 5, MCC celebrated National Doughnut Day to give everyone a chance to recreate the in-person experience of relief sale snacks. And your innovation and creativity shone like a beacon on a hill. Churches, families and community groups all across Canada and the U.S. baked, fried and sugar-dipped all sorts of confections and shared them with their neighbours to raise thousands of dollars to support MCC’s relief work around the world.