Local churches raise money for Philippines

Waterloo High School student Devon Rice serves up a bowl of chili during Friday night’s fundraiser. (Kermit Constantine photo)

The Waterloo community came together Friday to raise money for a country more than 8,000 miles away.

In light of the recent typhoon in the Philippines — which resulted in more than 5,200 confirmed deaths as of this writing — members of Waterloo churches pulled together a chili dinner fundraiser in less than a week.

First Baptist Church and St. Paul’s United Church of Christ, along with contributions from other area churches including Immanuel Lutheran Church, hosted the dinner Friday night at Waterloo High School.

Kelly Lerch, the wellness coordinator for the Waterloo School District, said that organizers raised $1,400 during the chili dinner fundraiser.

“For something we put together in less than a week, we did pretty well,” she said.

In addition to that total, St. Paul UCC collected $1,000 in donations during Sunday services.

Lerch said that although she wasn’t sure of the exact number of people, she thinks there were anywhere between 200 and 300 in attendance throughout the course of the evening.

Pastor James Watson of St. Paul UCC took the lead in emailing all the churches in Waterloo to come together for a good cause.

An event such as this one has taken place before– when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti in 2010.

“The reason that we thought of this was because we did a chili supper then as well,” Lerch said. “We had about three weeks to get ready for that and it was better-attended, but with Thanksgiving around the corner we figured we should do this sooner rather than later.”

The nearly $2,500 will be sent directly to Church World Service.

“The pastors had suggested (Church World Service) because our churches are a part of that and they have a place there in the Philippines,” she said. “The churches pay the workers directly up front, so this money is going straight to help the people.”

Lerch said the idea to do the chili supper was a collaborative one from herself and Pastor Watson.

“His wife, Thelma (Burgonio-Watson), is from the Philippines, and it was very timely as well,” Lerch said.

A Waterloo High School teacher’s stepmother was also in the Philippines at the time of the typhoon, so he helped pull the chili supper together as well.

Attendees brought in pots of chili, teachers helped with drinks and hot dogs, and high school students helped with the entertainment and serving of the food.

“There was just such a community tie-in,” Lerch said. “We did pretty well.”

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