Lenten Calendar as a Teaching Tool
When Anne Kayser decided to use Imagine No Malaria’s Giving Calendar last year for Lent, she had no idea what impact it would have. “It turned out to be a great teaching tool,” she says.
Anne works as a private tutor. Her special expertise is in autism, and many of her autistic students– including her son, Tom– struggle with the concept of money. But the simple act of counting household items and donating a certain amount of money for each of them became a helpful object lesson.
For example, the prompt for one day on the calendar says, “$0.25 for each light switch in your home.” On that day, Anne and two of her students went on a scavenger hunt around the house counting light switches. One student carried the family coin jar, and one carried the donation jar. For each light switch, she had the students move a quarter from one jar to the other, counting “25, 50, 75…” Once all the light switches were counted, they wrote the total dollar amount for that day on their copy of the calendar.
After the first week of Lent, Anne wrote: “Tom and I have counted out more than $23 so far using the Imagine No Malaria calendar! Can you believe we have 8 sinks in this house?! I walked around the house with Tom to count them all, handing him a dollar bill every time he led me to another one. Before we were finished he asked, ‘Are you tired of counting?’ It took us more than an hour to count all the medicine bottles because there were some in most bathrooms as well as lots in the kitchen. We read the expiration date on each one and threw out all that were expired — which was more than half of them. I’m grateful for this exercise and purging! I’m also glad to be getting Tom involved in raising money for such a good cause. He is already much better at counting quarters now!”
During Lent, Anne noticed improvement in her students’ ability to count money. “I bet it could do that for other kids too, so I’m eager to share it at church,” she says. “Maybe it will help make some connections between how much we have been given and how much we have to give.”
A few other families at Anne’s church, Portland First UMC, used the Lenten calendar last year to great effect. Throughout the past year, Anne has volunteered with the church to put on special fundraising events for Imagine No Malaria, including a pancake feast. This year during Lent, she hopes to have even more families involved through the Lenten giving calendar.
Using the calendar will generate donations of about $100 for an average American family over the course of the Lenten season. But it’s not just a fundraiser. It’s a teachable moment. It helps families to recognize blessings that they usually take for granted– like access to electricity, clean water, and medicine– and then turn those blessings into an offering of thanks.