‘The hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world’

More than a thousand volunteers help make 2013 MCC Festival a philanthropic success

September 25, 2013 | God at work in the World | Number 19
Story and Photos by Angelika Dawson | Mennonite Central Committee B.C.
Elizabeth Wiens tries out her new hula hoop that she got at the children’s auction at the MCC Festival. The auction allowed kids and their parents to bid on kid-friendly items and brought in $1,876.

It was a fun-filled, exciting weekend at the annual Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Festival for World Relief held at the Abbotsford Tradex on Sept. 6 and 7. The annual event raised more than a half-million dollars to support MCC’s relief, development and peace work in more than 60 countries around the world.

Relief Sale coordinator Dora Hoeppner was encouraged by the thousands of people who attended. The atmosphere was one of giving and generosity. “On Friday night, a gentleman bought a tool at the garage sale area,” she said, adding, “He returned on Saturday and told us that he’d researched the item and felt that he’d under-paid, so he contributed another $300.”

But for Hoeppner, the stat that moved her the most was the number of volunteers participating. “We had 1,180 volunteers sign in at the Festival and they were from 75 different churches, including quite a few non-Mennonite churches,” she said. “That literally moved me to tears, as I realized anew what a fantastic ‘coming together’ this is, being the hands and feet of Jesus in a broken world!”

One of the more poignant moments of the Festival came on Sept. 7 at the live auction as the late auctioneer Clyde Dougans was remembered; he had been a fixture for decades at the MCC Festival for 35 years and his wife Joy said this was his favourite auction event. The auctioneers presented Joy and his daughter Jennifer Forbes with a gift.

Call for volunteers

Forbes also participated as an auctioneer on the weekend and became the first female auctioneer in the history of the MCC Festival.

It will take time to tally up all the donations, but the initial count indicates that the 2013 MCC Festival for World Relief has raised more than $600,000 to help people in need all around the world.

By the numbers

  • The live auction, which included a 26-metre sailboat that sold for $23,000 and a 1980 single-owner Mercedes Benz car that sold for $5,500, brought in nearly $75,000.
  • The quilt auction’s 30 quilts raised more than $30,000, with the most expensive quilt going for $3,500.
  • Thousands of pennies and other coins were donated to the Penny Power project and are still being counted. The donations for Penny Power are matched 4:1 by the federal government through MCC’s account with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank and will support farmers in Burundi.
  • 19,200 vereneki were served, 771 kilograms of farmer’s sausage were consumed, 140 large pizzas were eaten and more than 3,600 kilograms of fresh produce and grains from the Okanagan were sold.
  • The Bread of Life—a symbolic loaf of bread that is auctioned off each year—brought in $172,250 from a number of bidders.
  • Those who didn’t find anything to buy or bid on simply gave, donating more than $92,000 to MCC’s work.

Elizabeth Wiens tries out her new hula hoop that she got at the children’s auction at the MCC Festival. The auction allowed kids and their parents to bid on kid-friendly items and brought in $1,876.

Jennifer Forbes is the first female auctioneer in the history of the MCC Festival. She is pictured auctioning the loaf of bread, which sold for a cumulative total of $172,250 from a number of bidders. Volunteer Tim Kroeker holds the bread.

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