Unique church fundraiser undeterred by theft

June 17, 2011 | Young Voices
Brent Davis | Waterloo Region Record

The youth group at a Waterloo church is using rain water at a fundraising car wash on Saturday as they raise money and awareness for water conservation projects in Africa. Organizers at Waterloo North Mennonite Church had collected more than 3,500 litres of water as they prepared for the event, storing it in several donated rain barrels and two large storage cubes on the property at 100 Benjamin Rd.

But things have gotten even more interesting in recent days with the discovery that someone came along and dumped the water out of seven of the barrels before taking them. That’s right. Someone actually drained out, then stole, seven rain barrels. From a church.

“It is kind of bizarre,” said the church’s interim youth co-ordinator, Paul Koop. “The money wasn’t the issue. It’s the whole irony of them being stolen and dumped out, and we’re trying to raise money to help people collect rain water.”

Koop came up with the idea to use rain water when he decided he didn’t want to waste clean municipal drinking water on cars. “Other countries have a finite supply of water. They don’t have faucets to turn on.”

Church families came through, donating barrels and bringing in their own rain water as they collected it at home. The theft left the congregation “shocked that it happened at the church,” Koop said.

Undaunted, he’s pushing ahead. Although he estimates they lost about 1,200 litres of stored rain water, the thief left behind the two storage cubes hooked up to the church’s downspouts, along with one “ugly” blue rain barrel.

They’ve still got plenty of water on hand for the event, which begins at 8 a.m. Donations are being collected in exchange for a wash, and money raised will support the Mennonite Central Committee’s water projects in Tanzania.

One of the initiatives is the construction of sand dams, where walls are built across seasonal riverbeds. When it rains, sand builds up behind the wall. The sand acts as both sponge and filter, retaining large quantities of water while filtering out impurities.

They’ll also be holding a bake sale and a silent auction for the two water cubes, and there will be water-related displays set up inside. The event goes rain or shine, and volunteers will wash cars until they run out of water. ©2011 Brent Davis, Record staff, Waterloo Region Record, Ontario Canada

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