As we wrap up the end of what many believe is the “season of giving,” many will reflect on the gifts we’ve given and received. For one local church, a recent seasonal donation project will be memorable for the congregation as well as the community.
The Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren recently participated in what Pastor Greg Laszakovits calls “the re-gifting project.” The initiative involved every member of the congregation receiving $20 from the church pastoral team and church board with instructions to pay it forward. The only caveat was once donated, the person who gave the gift must return a card with how the money was used.
“The project tied into a collection of sermons we ran on re-gifting,” Pastor Laszakovits said. “It was pretty special, and embodied the generosity we’ve already seen in our congregation.”
With no other stipulations on how the money must be used, the congregation chose a number of individuals, organizations and projects of their own choosing. These individual donations included local as well as international needs.
One couple, Ziegler (Zig) and Christine Heilman, wanted to keep the money local, and recalls the anonymous recipient.
“I was at Turkey Hill holding the envelope we just received and I see a guy who was not dressed very well,” Zig Heilman said. “He held the door for me and I gave him the envelope. He said, ‘What’s this for?’ I said, ‘You’ll see.’ and that was really the end of it.”
Heilman described the exchange as emotional.
“I still tear up thinking about it; it was such a personal moment,” Heilman said. “We wanted to see the man; we wanted to connect to him.”
Another couple, Karen and George Ungemach, decided to find a way to impact the local as well as international in need with their re-gifting.
“Every year the church holds a disaster relief benefit auction,” Karen Ungemach said. “We purchased a heifer who will be bred and then used on a dairy farm locally.”
The proceeds from the auction will be used to benefit such areas as Puerto Rico, and other regions that have been affected by disasters such as tsunamis, earthquakes or tropical storms.
Ungemach also spoke about the personal impact of the project.
“The day in church when we got the envelope was so powerful. There were over 300 people in church that day,” she said.
Although this is a new project, Laszakovits hopes to continue to engage the congregation and community with the attitude of generosity.
“This asks the question of how we can find ways to pay forward the good we receive every day,” Laszakovits said. “What if we were to treat everything we get with such care and attention?”
There are currently more than 100 returned donation cards from this initiative. Anyone interested in hearing more can visit the church where a board of return donation cards is currently on display. The Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren is located at 777 S. Mount Joy St. and its doors are open daily weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for visitors as well as extended hours Sunday for church services.