A St. Andrew United Methodist Church family, who wishes to remain anonymous, was inspired by a sermon series called “Build Your Kingdom” and wanted to encourage others to spark change in the world. They are providing $160,000 for three summers ($480,000 total) in matching funds to encourage church members to initiate hands-on service projects outside the walls of St. Andrew UMC.  The program is uniquely called “Spark Tank, Ignite (Y)our World,” a play on the ABC show Shark Tank, where budding entrepreneurs get a chance to turn big ideas into big returns on investments.

“The ‘Build Your Kingdom’ sermon series focused on how it is our job to build the kingdom of Christ here on earth,” said Rev. Arthur Jones, associate pastor, St. Andrew UMC.  “It is the Lord’s Prayer in action… ‘thy will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.’ …It challenges you to view the world in the way that Jesus did, asking how can I help my neighbors.”

Lemonade stand raises $10,000
Initially launched on May 23, multiple projects are now underway for Spark Tank, the most visible one being a lemonade stand that raised $10,000 for fallen Dallas officers’ families. “At first we thought we might raise $100, and then after we got $5,000, we thought this project could get really high up,” said 11-year-old Landry Nelon, who put the stand together with her friend Lauren Roach, 12. “We are all so happy that we could make a difference.”

Mom Kimberly Nelon added, “The more people that got involved and the more word spread on social media, the more money started coming in…. It was amazing to see the support of everyone and hearing everyone’s comments when donating to the girls. This has been amazing experience for all of us!”

Nationally known lemonade stand fundraisers Lauren Roach, 12, and Landry Nelon, 11, present $10,000 to Fred Frazier, Dallas Police Association Vice President for fallen Dallas police officers’ families. Also pictured is Rev. Jennifer Arnold of St. Andrew UMC, which provided an initial $1,000 matching grant from Spark Tank.

Stuffed animals, backpacks gifted to children in need
Heather Davis and her two daughters, MacKenzie, 12, and Alexis, 14, provided 50 stuffed animals to children at Hope’s Door in Plano. With the help of friend and fellow church member Kim Bohling, 20 children gathered in Davis’ home to write handwritten notes and place the stuffed animals in individual boxes.

Then, on August 2, the Davis and Bohling families worked on a Spark Tank project to prepare 500 backpacks for foster children at Friends of Wednesday’s Child. Heather raised $9,481.83, which includes the matching Spark Tank grant.

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Lunch for Dallas Police Officers, August 18
On Thursday, August 18, St. Andrew UMC staff and pastors will be serving lunch to 150  police officers at the Southwest Patrol Division of the Dallas Police Department. Three of the officers killed and one who was wounded from the July 7 downtown shootings were based in this division. Both Lockhart Smokehouse and Stir Restaurant are contributing to this effort. Jeff Bergus of Lockhart, a St. Andrew UMC church member, knew one of the officers well. (He was a regular at his restaurant.)

Kay Richardson, a St. Andrew UMC staff member and 26-year church member who originated the idea, grew up in Oak Cliff and is excited to do this. “It’s a great collaboration of local restaurants donating food, St. Andrew staff serving, and the joy of feeding this station’s officers.”

Rev. Robert Hasley, senior pastor, St. Andrew UMC, said, “It is so exciting to see the wheels turning with Spark Tank as our congregation initiates ways to help others and become the hands and feet of Jesus. As far as we know there has never been anything done quite like this, and we are beyond grateful to a very special church family who has started it all. Without question these inspirational projects will change lives as these groups go forward and set the example of Christian love in action.”

Overview of St. Andrew UMC Spark Tank Projects

  • Help clean up and rebuild part of a church in Oak Cliff that burned last February
  • Buy a reliable, used car for army veteran Rashid Assalan
  • Purchase music for singing group (Encore) who visits nursing homes and retirement facilities doing free programs several times a year
  • Purchase medication, food, supplies and toiletries for a home in Lima, Peru, (Hogar de las Bienventuranzas) which helps handicapped, abandoned individuals
  • Purchase new ipods for residents of the Brooklyn United Methodist Church Home (nursing, rehab and hospice care). This was done by the St. Andrew Salt and Light Choir who sang there on tour this summer.
  • Work with the Rotary Club and the McKinney Parks Department to build an All-Abilities Playground in McKinney to benefit kids with disabilities
  • Pay for the shipment of 15 suitcases, which are packed with clothes and school supplies, for children in the Mutare and Mashonaland West Province in Zimbabwe.
  • Purchase 30 stuffed-animal gift kits for distribution to Hope’s Door
  • Contribution to Big Brothers, Big Sisters
  • Special lift chair for Plano Senior High drill team dad with ALS
  • Deliver flowers to Silverado Assisted Living
  • Mentoring program at Richardson High School
  • Smoke detector maintenance team
  • Help pay for buses for Hamilton Park UMC Youth Conference trip
  • Help pay for yoga balls for special education classes in public schools
  • Funding for jewelry-making supplies for Costa Rica women’s ministry
  • Pay rent for a ministry being run by Leon Johnson
  • Renovate part of a donated building to be able to house six additional women for Agape Assistance Center
  • Sunday School Class buying supplies for refugee family’s apartment
  • Vacation Bible School
  • Take seven members of a disadvantaged family to Six Flags
  • Lemonade stand to raise money for handicapped kids
  • Fast food gift cards for homeless people with signs on the street
  • Help repair freezer and replace lost meat for Minnie’s Food Pantry
  • Air conditioning repair and groceries for person in the welfare system
  • Plant trees for Patriot Paws
  • Lemonade stand for DPA
  • Purchase art to donate to hospice centers
  • Supplies for Dallas Christian Women’s Job Corp
  • Stuff backpacks for foster kids, distributed to Friends of Wednesday’s Child
  • Buying books for Title 1 schools in PISD
  • Help with the cost of repairing a truck for Danae Gutierrez (food-delivery effort)
  • Funds to help with medical bills for hair stylist in Tennessee who has cancer
  • Funds to help repair air conditioner at new church startup in San Antonio
  • Funds to purchase shoes for Big Feat event
  • Steve Fields Gift Cards for St. Andrew police officers
  • Free Flu Clinic (to provide 100–150 vaccines)
  • Complete chores for Rhonda Sanchez to finish Christian’s Merit Badge
  • Shoes for Orphan Soles
  • Help with medical bills for a 2-year-old child with Leukemia
  • Buy books for Plano Presbyterian NICU
  • Pay for groceries at Aldi
  • Provide funds for WWII Vets Honor Flight in November

Brit Mott

Brit is a Leadership Plano Class 25 graduate and Leadership Frisco Class 10 graduate. She received her Master’s in Journalism from the University of North Texas and her Bachelor’s in Mass Communication...