By Devlin Smith
Last fall, young teenagers at Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington, Ill., combined their efforts to raise $6,000 for the African Well Fund.
Scott Rubin, junior high pastor at Willow Creek, discussed how the church decided to raise money for AWF and the impact this drive has had on his students.
Why did Willow Creek decide to raise money for AWF?
More specifically than Willow Creek, it was Willow’s junior high students who got excited about helping provide clean water for Africans in need.
How did you raise the funds?
We started talking about it at our summer camp last year. It was an underlying theme of our whole camp experience.
What were your goals for the fundraiser?
Honestly, we didn’t set a specific monetary goal. We put a challenge out to students and they responded.
What kind of reaction did you get from the church community to this fundraiser?
Many parents were especially touched by their students’ hearts to help people in need. Here’s a letter I got from a mom:
Scott –
Our daughter Cassie’s birthday was this week and she asked if instead of gifts, we would give money towards the wells for Africa. She mentioned a bucket in Elevate that you are praying will be filled. She is also having a party in 2 weeks and has asked her friends to skip the gifts and bring whatever they can to help fill the bucket. We will forward that to you also afterwards.
Enclosed you will find a check for her birthday money. Thank you for teaching them to have a heart that cares for the world and not just for themselves.

Cassie’s note:
Dear Mom & Dad,
I have decided what I would like for my birthday. I am sorry to give you such a short notice but I have decided a week ago. I would have said an iPod or laptop, nothing else. But then I got to thinking, school just started and we spent so much on new clothes and shoes. There are kids who can’t go to school because it would be too much and there are more important things needed. And then the next day at elevate, Scott, our pastor, mentioned a bucket to put our lose change and extra money in for wells in Africa so they can have clean water. And I feel very strong about doing this so instead of any gifts, I have decided that whenever you see something in the store, remember the price and save the money in a jar. Then on my birthday present me with the jar. That would make it the best birthday ever. I am also going to tell my friends this but I am telling you: absolutely NO GIFTS. This is what I want for my birthday. I love you guys.

What was your reaction to the results of the fundraiser?
We were thrilled that God is growing compassionate hearts in our students. And we realize that many more students in our community want to make a difference in their world. Often times middle schoolers are underestimated but, when given a chance and a challenge, great things can happen.
Are you planning additional fundraisers in the future for AWF or other organizations?
Sure. It’ll be cool to see what AWF is able to do as they continue to help African nations. We’re open to it. We’re looking at how to best continue to encourage compassion in our students.