April Fool’s Day prank supports Ohio church food pantry

getflocked_group.jpgOn April Fool’s Day, someone in North Jackson, Ohio, is going to wake up to find about 50 pink, plastic flamingos standing on their front lawn. That lucky person will be the “winner” of First Federated Church’s “Get Flocked” fundraiser, an off-the-wall effort to raise awareness and support for the church’s food pantry that serves about 150 local families each month.

“It’s eye-catching and silly and harmless,” said the Rev. Jack Acri, pastor of First Federated, which is a blended church of the United Church of Christ, the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the Presbyterian Church. “It’s about having fun, but it’s also raising the profile of the needs of the pantry and recognizing the good and hard work of our charities board at the church.”

Through March 29, members of the community can purchase tickets for $1 each to nominate someone to have their lawn decorated with the plastic birds. The prank will also include a sign stating that the winner has been “flocked” by First Federated Church in support of the church’s Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard food pantry. The money raised from the “Get Flocked” fundraiser will go toward buying high-protein food items, such as meat, peanut butter and cans of tuna fish, for Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, which distributes food on the second and fourth Saturdays of each month. These items will supplement the produce, canned goods, and other items the church purchases from the Second Harvest Food Bank. While the flamingos will only be placed locally, anyone can donate to the cause through the church’s web site.

“It’s a bit of a source of pride for us,” Acri said. “Our church can have fun doing mission and introducing ourselves to folks who have never met us.”

The initiative is starting to pick up steam, even inspiring passersby to stop in and donate to the cause. Acri estimates they sold 50 tickets during the first week, and may double that by the deadline. The church dedicates an annual budget of $10,000 to Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard, generated through member donations and other events throughout the year. While the extra donations from the “Get Flocked” fundraiser will certainly be useful, Acri says the effort isn’t necessarily about the money, but about raising awareness about the needs of those in the community. This particular initiative, he adds, also shows that the church has a sense of humor.

Those in charge of the fundraiser have hinted that tickets nominating Acri to have the flamingos placed in his yard have so far been submitted several times. As for who Acri will nominate, that, he said, is a “closely-guarded secret.”

“But if I lived closer to Rich Plant (Associate for Leadership Vitality and Development for the Eastern Ohio & Western Reserve Associations of the Ohio Conference) I would put them in his yard,” he said. “I’m not sure what his wife would think about it, but he would get the joke.”

Categories: United Church of Christ News

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