Faces and stories from the Alberta MCC relief sale

Donita Wiebe-Neufeld, Alta. Correspondent
Sisters Jessica and Samantha Friesen enjoy having their faces painted in the children’s entertainment area at the MCC Alberta relief sale. The sisters are from Abbeydale Christian Fellowship in Calgary. The congregation donated half of the pies needed for the sale and the Friesen family delivered them to Didsbury. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

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 kms) 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 $218,000 for the work of relief, peace, and development around the world.

Sisters Jessica and Samantha Friesen enjoy having their faces painted in the children’s entertainment area at the MCC Alberta relief sale. The sisters are from Abbeydale Christian Fellowship in Calgary. The congregation donated half of the pies needed for the sale and the Friesen family delivered them to Didsbury. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Friday night’s auction opened with bids for a special peace quilt which cannot be taken home. The winning bid went to Rudy Wiens who made a $2,200 donation to MCC. He 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. He likes to offer a listening ear and encouragement to young people. “I connect well with the kids…they are ready to tell an 80-year-old things,” he said. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Three years ago Joyce Doran was working for Ten Thousand Villages in Calgary when she heard Abe Janzen (then MCC Alberta 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 Alberta. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

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. Pictured are: (from left) Nasayem, Delores Peters (Bergthal church), Mothana, Mariam, Jawaher, and Hatem. (Hatem was sponsored through the Trinity Mennonite Church in Calgary). (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sarah Neufeld of Didsbury (left) and Neve Jeffery of Calgary met and visited while tying knots in a comforter. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

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. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

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-1990s, 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. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Matthew (5) and Aaron Friesen (6) are two of the youngest volunteers, taking turns pulling the school bus to collect change. Asked why they are helping, Matthew said, “because I like it.” Aaron added, “it is going to donate to other people.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Sisters Irene Baergen (left) of Edmonton and Hilda Baergen of Coaldale, along with siblings Alice Klassen of Coaldale and Margaret Froese of Canmore, have an eight-year 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. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

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.” 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. (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

Josh Poland and Greg Sanderson of The Rosehill Auction Service pose with Bob Janzen (middle). 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.” (Photo by Donita Wiebe-Neufeld)

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