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Billings Park church buys the farm

For years, the congregation of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church has been helping to feed the world. They save up change and accept donations for weeks. The funds are used to send gifts of mosquito netting, fresh water and farm animals to families in need through the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

"We’ve mostly done sheep and goats," said Julianne Koski, chairwoman of the church’s Mission and Outreach Board. "The kids like to get chicks."

For a $10 donation, 10 chicks are given to a family. Within months, they are laying eggs that provide both food and a source of income.

"People like this because it’s tangible," Koski said, and they know that 90 percent of donations go directly toward the purchase of animals and seed.

Most of their gifts have been sent to families in Southeast Asia.

"This year we were asked to up the ante and buy the whole farm," Koski said.

The cost for a total package, which includes a cow, goats, chicks, pigs, farming tools, seeds and training, runs $715. That’s nearly twice what the church usually raises for the project through Sunday school coin banks and special donations.

To help reach their goal, the church at 1924 Wyoming Ave., is hosting a "Help Buy the Farm" carnival from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday

"We’d like to do something that involves the whole community," Koski said.

Admission to the carnival, rain or shine, is free. Everyone is invited.

"If they can give something, great," Koski said. "They’re able to come regardless."

Tickets will be sold for the games and activities. Activities will include a petting zoo, face painting, a bake sale, food and a doggie kissing booth. Brown and white cows — root beer and cream soda floats — will be available as well as farm-themed games like feed the pig, lasso the horse, pin the tail on the cow and both a fish and duck pond.

The church stresses local giving. Its Threads of Hope children’s clothes closet offers free items for newborns through size 14. It’s open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 5-7 p.m. Tuesdays at the church.

"If you need help, come," Koski said. "If you want to help, donate."

A Little Blue Bookshelf in the hallway is piled with free books for children. Every month, the congregation targets a local organization to raise funds for and the church opens its doors for a community backpack and school supply giveaway each fall.

With the carnival, they’re offering some family fun and the chance to pay it forward as they buy the farm.

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