The Parish of Huntley in Carp, Ont. raised $12,000 to aid people fleeing the war in Ukraine through the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF).
The Rev. Canon Baxter Park told Crosstalk that when the war began, parishioners wanted to help and thought of collecting necessities to send to Europe. As a retired military chaplain, he remembered successful campaigns with NGOs such as “Boots for Bosnia,” but he advised the parishioners that such efforts require quite a lot of logistical support in order to deliver goods to those in need.
He suggested that the most effective way to help would be to raise money. ““It can get there quick, it can be spent locally, often it can buy more,” he said. So, the parish began collecting money to direct to PWRDF, which Park says he has always supported: “It is our charity, and I know they have boots on the ground in all sorts of NGOs, charitable organizations all around the world.”
Park said he hoped they could raise a couple of thousand dollars, noting that it is a successful and thriving rural parish, but that it is small with only about 100 families actively involved. “We set out by just highlighting it in our announcements at church saying we wanted to support people in Ukraine, and this was a way to really do something about the kind of horrific images that we are seeing each day on our television and support people immediately.”
Parishioners rallied around the effort and quickly reached their first target of $2,000. When they reached $2,800, one parishioner decided to match what had been raised so far, bringing the total to $5,600. But Park said people wanted to help and it just kept going.
When another parishioner brought in a cheque for a substantial donation, Park recounted how she talked about watching the news of families saying goodbye as women and children fled the country and men stayed behind to fight. “This may seem very generous,” she told him, “But I just couldn’t imagine getting on that train and leaving my husband and my boys behind. It really did something inside of me, and I really needed to make a more significant gesture.”
Aside from a couple of large donations, Park said most of the money came in smaller donations of $50 or $100. And he was quick to note that “some of those $50 donations were equally as heartfelt [as the large ones] because they came from people who had less resources to give,” he said. “That’s one of the things I’ve learned about stewardship and raising money for the church. It’s okay to seek out big gifts, but a lot of little gifts make a big gift.”
Park added, “One of the things I really love about Huntley is how much there is a real desire to reach out beyond themselves for whatever the need happens to be.”