By Kara Witherow, Editor
Bake sales, pasta dinners, and cake walks are the bread and butter of church fundraisers, but one Brunswick church’s student ministry has taken food fundraising up a noxious notch or two.
Wanting to raise several thousand dollars for 14 students and four chaperones to go on a mission trip to Jamaica this December, youth directors from The Chapel, a United Methodist congregation in Brunswick, this summer hatched a plan to raise $5,000 by performing a series of shocking stunts.
In two months, they’ve raised nearly $7,000 by eating bugs, worms, rotten eggs, experiencing simulated labor pain, having their nose hair waxed, and more.
“We thought it was a crazy, awesome idea,” said Drew Childers, The Chapel’s student ministry director who said he and former student director Adam Goff came up with the idea during an afternoon brainstorming session.
“But the reality of it didn’t sink in until people started sending in money,” Childers said. “I don’t think the idea really stuck with me until we ate the live worms, and then we realized what we had gotten ourselves into.”
The two broke their $5,000 goal into bite-size pieces, and each mini monetary goal had a corresponding stunt. When they raised $250, Childers and Goff ate pig’s feet. At $500 they ate live worms. When $1,000 had been given they were hooked to a labor pain simulator.
“Between eating live worms and the labor simulator, those are our two moments when reality really hit,” Childers said, who endured up to level 35 on the pain simulator. “My mother thoroughly enjoyed that.”
Social media, especially Facebook, was key. Once videos were posted to the church’s youth Facebook page, they were liked and shared and word spread. Childers and Goff were even recognized around town for their crazy antics.
“Social media really drove this,” Childers said. “People started sharing it and calling us crazy and then were supporting our crazy.”
Jacob Bosarge, a 16-year-old junior at Brunswick’s Glynn Academy High School, is going on the mission trip and joined Childers in one of the challenges.
The two, along with another Chapel youth, 16-year-old Kyler Roy, each ate a piece of “The World’s Hottest Chocolate Bar.” Containing chili extract rated at nine million Scoville Heat Units, eating the candy earned the youth group $4,000.
“It’s the equivalent of a sunburn on your tongue,” Bosarge said in a video posted to Facebook, after eating a minuscule piece smaller than a thumbnail. The three had milk, mayonnaise, and peanut butter nearby to help dull the pain, and trashcans handy, just in case.
The chocolate bar tasted awful, Bosarge said, and not at all like chocolate, mostly like chili powder disguised as candy. But it was for a good cause, so he has no regrets.
“They didn’t even try to make it taste good, but it was fun,” he said. “I thought it was going to be one of the easier ones, but I was mistaken. I’ll take hot over gross, though.”
While in Jamaica, the team will partner with a local group and put on a Vacation Bible School for local children, build relationships, and help connect local students with the local church.
Bosarge is looking forward to this, his first international mission trip, and to serving with his friends.
“It feels really good to help other people, but it’s also nice to do this with people I already know and trust and have relationships with to build those and make them stronger.”
Childers is thankful for the church and community’s support of the youth and their mission trip. He is a little concerned, however, that the bar has been set for future fundraisers.
“We had no idea where this would end up, but just to see the congregation rally behind the students has been super cool,” he said. It’s been phenomenal to have that support. We have a congregation and community and church who loves and values our students.
“The only downside is that they’re going to expect this from me from now on! It’s been fun, and sometimes you have to get wild and crazy.”
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