Blueberries, strawberries and raspberries just about any berries a person could want were available Saturday, July 12, at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church. But these berries were not just any berries.
They were berries with a cause.
Sponsored by the Outreach in the Evangelism Committee, Berry Festival is an annual program put on to raise money for a specific international fund. This year, according to Committee Chairperson Danny Patrick, the funding will benefit the China and Myanmar Relief Fund, to provide for families whose homes were damaged as a result of a May earthquake.
`The result is that we raised $510 total,` said Patrick, who explained that anyone could come to the church and enjoy the berries, but that donations were appreciated.
According to Patrick, about 100 people attended this year’s Berry Festival. `We got a lot of people to come from the community,` said Patrick.
Alberta Cole, a member of the committee said, `It was excellent that we got to see a lot of people from the neighborhood.`
According to Cole, the committee tries to stay aware of disaster situations during the year, then decides what the funds raised by the berry festival should go toward. In previous years, said Cole, the money has gone to Habitat for Humanity, a non-profit housing organization, and the Beltrone Living Center in Colonie, a property of independent senior housing operated by Colonie Senior Services. Patrick said that this year, the committee chose the China and Myanmar Relief Fund after hearing in the news about the earthquakes, which claimed the lives of thousands.
`We thought the [earthquake] disasters, they were just so devastating and so unfair,` said Cole.
The funds generated from the Berry Festival will go through the Lutheran Church in America.
According to Patrick, this year has been the most successful for Berry Festival. `Last year, I think we raised $429,` he said. Patrick also said that the year before, the church raised around $300.
But money was not the only thing found in high quantities on Saturday.
`In terms of strawberries,` said Patrick, `we probably ended up with about 15 quarts.`
Patrick said that the church also had about 5 quarts of blueberries and 5 quarts of raspberries Saturday morning, which were used in strawberry shortcake, ice cream and mixed berries.
Eight-year-old Cameron Kaercher said his favorite berries were the blueberries. When asked if he had any strawberry shortcake, Kaercher said, `No. Just plain berries.`
Kaercher’s father, Mark, said that he and his family has been attending the berry festival for the past few years.
`It’s just a nice social gathering,` said Kaercher, `The berries are definitely a treat and the music and the fellowship are also a treat.` Kaercher said his family did donate to the relief fund at this year’s Berry Festival.
While not all berries leave the church in the bellies of those who attend the festival, Patrick said the leftovers are sold at the church the following Sunday to continue the donation drive for the relief fund. This year’s proceeds were a combined profit of both the event and the following day. The berries themselves are donated by members of the committee and members of the congregation.
Patrick did not say what next year’s Berry Festival donations will go toward, but, according to Cole, Berry Festival is not the only relief donation program the church sponsors.
`There’s [a program] coming up the end of September. It’s a fair-trade fair,` said Cole, `This is our third year too for that and we get goods from all over the world through Lutheran world relief and through the greater gifts.`
The church provides international goods from impoverished locations for the church to sell during the fair.
After all the proceeds are counted, 10 percent goes to the church, 10 percent goes to the organization that pays for the shipping of the goods and 80 percent goes to the individuals in the countries in which the gifts are made, said Cole.
To make a donation to Good Shepherd Lutheran Church for these funds, call Danny Patrick at 458-1562. “