Jason Kooima, a member of Calvin Christian Reformed Church in Rock Valley, Iowa, remembers the Winter Festival sale when he was growing up. Now, years later, he’s the coordinator, and the festival is still going strong.
“At this point we don’t even have to call some of the farmers,” he says. “They just know what time of year it is.”
Each harvest season, farmers around Rock Valley donate a portion of their grain to benefit Rock Valley Christian School. The school then sells the grain to local farmers.
Kooima estimates that 25 farmers participate in this project. Combined with other donation sales, the Winter Festival brings in about $130,000 each year.
In addition to grain, members of the community donate livestock, barns, bicycles, televisions, and clothing items.
Because the project has been going on for so long, a wide range of people participate. “This kind of sale pulls in the older folks along with the young families and single adults,” Kooima says.
Kooima is proud of the work he has become a part of. “When you get something that started years ago, it becomes a generational thing,” he says. “If the school will survive, the community needs to gather together and commit to it.”