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Last fall, members of Saugatuck (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church decided to do something different for Thanksgiving—collect money to purchase goats through Christian Reformed World Relief Committee, the CRC’s relief and development agency, for families in need around the globe.

Children helped raise money to buy goats through CRWRC. (Back row, l-r): Joe Groenewoud, Jr., Noah Groenewoud, Collin Looman; (front row, l-r: Caitlin Groenewoud, Allison Looman, Brandon Groenewoud, Elliot Looman

At $35 per goat, deacons believed their small congregation (roughly 45-50 attend morning services) could collect enough funds to purchase at least two goats. They surprised themselves by raising enough for 34 goats.

In order to inspire the congregation, deacons displayed pictures of the cloven-hoofed creatures and placed a globe bank at the front of the sanctuary where children were encouraged to put their offerings.

Terri Schippa, a Sunday school teacher for 4th- and 5th-graders, said, “I told [my students] I was going to buy them a goat, and they could pay me back with random acts of kindness and good deeds.” The children eagerly reported such “repayment” as helping their siblings with homework and their parents with extra chores.

Each week the deacons tallied the donations and announced the number of goats the congregation would purchase, which inspired the congregation further. “It became like a competition,” said Schippa.

Saugatuck CRC members were delighted to have greatly exceeded their expectations, seeing that even a small church can make a big impact. Said deacon JoAnn DeJonge, “We are thanking the Lord for this outpouring of love and care from our congregation to people in need.”

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