Teen raises cash, awareness for Arkansas health system

My name is Morgan I am a 13yr old United Methodist Youth and I have decided that during Lent I will give up my allowance and GIVE to a wonderful cause that has touched my heart.

So begins the Facebook Event page “Raising Money for the Children of Methodist Family Health.” The page was set up Feb. 28 by Morgan Timbs, a member of First United Methodist Church in Bentonville, Ark.

On April 12 Morgan reached her final fundraising total of $2,164, more than twice her $1,000 goal.

What prompts a teen to give away her allowance—and encourage others to do the same?

Morgan Timbs

COURTESY PHOTO • • • Morgan Timbs counts some of the more than $2,000 she collected through a fundraising campaign for Methodist Family Health in Little Rock, Ark.

In February, Morgan had spent a weekend at Veritas, an annual event held by the Arkansas Conference Council on Youth Ministries. One of the workshops she attended focused on mission, highlighting several ministries including Methodist Family Health, a comprehensive healthcare system for children and families in Arkansas. It was the first time Morgan had heard of the organization, but its work in helping people her own age captured her attention.

“I can’t imagine what it would be like to not have my parents, or for my parents not to take an active part in my life,” she said. “Then you have the part [of the video] where sometimes kids come to Methodist Family Health with just the clothes on their backs.”

Veritas ended on Sunday, Feb. 26. That evening, the youth of First UMC Bentonville held their regular gathering. Maggie Beeler, assistant director of development with Methodist Family Health, served as guest speaker. She presented information about the organization’s mission and ministry—including the same video Morgan had seen in her workshop. And the second time was a charm.

“That’s when I sat there watching it, thinking, ‘I want to help, but how can I help?’” Morgan said. “During the same weekend I was still thinking about what I wanted to give up for Lent. . . . I decided that for Lent I would give up my allowance and donate it to this great cause.”

“You never know what can cause a spark in a student,” says Brandon Bates, youth minister for First UMC Bentonville. “She’d mentioned to me that night what she was wanting to do, and I told her to go for it, not having any idea the reach that this would have, and how determined she would be to achieve the goal.”

Almost immediately, Morgan began to think bigger than her own allowance. She turned to social media as a tool to multiply her efforts.

“I thought, ‘If I could just reach out to a thousand people, and if they can just donate one dollar, then wow! I could raise $1,000,’” she said.

I did this fundraiser because it made me feel good to know that even though I’m only 13 years old, I can make a difference.’—Morgan Timbs

She started her Facebook Event page, posting it on First UMC Bentonville’s Facebook page and inviting her own family and friends. In turn, those people shared the event page with their friends. Morgan soon began receiving donations in the mail from relatives, friends and complete strangers not only from all over Arkansas, but also from Tennessee, Indiana, North and South Carolina, Kentucky and California.

“Honestly, a lot of the donations have come from people I don’t know personally,” she says. “That’s the neat thing about social networking. Once my event page started being shared on Facebook, it seemed like everyone had heard about what I was doing.”

Morgan’s campaign got the attention of KNWA-TV in Fayetteville. When the reporter asked if she had been saving her allowance for anything special, she mentioned she had been thinking of buying a tote bag in a style that would be easy to carry to school along with her backpack. After the story aired, a store owner in Fayetteville contacted her.

“He wanted to donate to my cause and give me a gift, which turned out to be the Vera Bradley bag I wanted,” she said. “We have also been contacted by a representative from Vera Bradley and they want to send me a little gift, too.”

While she appreciates the gift, Morgan makes it clear that her goal was to help others, not to get anything for herself. And because of her efforts, many more people have heard about how Methodist Family Health helps families and children.

“I never expected to receive a gift for what I was doing,” she said. “I did this fundraiser because it made me feel good to know that even though I’m only 13 years old, I can make a difference. I hope this helps other youth to stand up and make a difference, too.”

 

Ms. Amy Forbus is editor of the Arkansas United Methodist, the newspaper of the Arkansas Conference.

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