What prompts a teenager to choose Outreach as her charity of choice? That’s the question that was raised when a recent gift, at an unusual amount, came into the Resource Development office.
“It’s not every day you receive a gift for $52, exactly.” says Bonnie Malcolm Chrisman, vice president of resource development. “I just knew there had to be a good story here.”
That gift came from Haley Merck, a 17-year-old Wheaton North High School student who was surprised to find out we wanted to know more about her gift. To her, the story is simple:
When I started to get an allowance, around age 12, my mom and I decided that a good portion of it should go to charity every year. We came up with a good percentage that we would give, about $1 every week, and the allowance continued. Throughout the years, I have chosen a specific charity to give to.
I chose Outreach because it is such a great place. It has influenced both my mother’s life and mine in many ways. There are so many wonderful programs and people who work there and I thought it was a perfect thing to support with my charity money.
It was my choice. I felt like I was really giving back to my community. I love being able to give this money to people in need every year.
Haley has first-hand experience with Outreach. As a 7th grader, her choir sang for the Older Adults Program at Outreach Community Center in Carol Stream. She’s also learned about Outreach’s services through her parents, long-time supporters Hal and Jennifer Merck.
Haley’s younger brother also chose to support Outreach this year by donating his tithe to the house parents at Hawthorne House, the transitional housing site for young adult women.
“I love that Outreach is giving our kids the sense of what it means to be involved in Kingdom work,” says mom Jennifer Merck.
While she never intended for others to know about her investment in Outreach, Haley now hopes her support will inspire others to give. “So many people find hope through Outreach, so it is an easy thing for us to just give a little money to support our neighbors,” she says.