When Kiana Roat, former principal of Green Bay Adventist Junior Academy in Wisconsin, approached Pathfinder area coordinator Becky Zeismer last year with the idea of collecting sleeping bags no longer needed after Oshkosh, the two had no idea what to expect.
Roat was heading the homeless ministry at the Green Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church and thought this might be an avenue to find some much-needed supplies.
It wasn’t until Zeismer traveled to Michigan for a meeting pertaining to Oshkosh planning that the idea took root. Zeismer recalls that Betty Whitehead, one of the chief Chosen International Camporee organizers, said that while something like this had never been attempted at Oshkosh, there was certainly a need for collecting items that Pathfinder clubs ordered for pickup in Wisconsin but had no means of transporting home. Zeismer was then asked to coordinate the process of collecting reusable camping equipment, as well as the donations of perishable food items.
As the camporee drew near, plans ensued for an orderly processing of the goods. Working together, Roat and Zeismer helped coordinate the availability of three 16-foot enclosed utility trailers at the camp site. These trailers were arrayed with banners, and announcements were made on social media and in the camporee newsletter to promote the outreach project. During the camporee it also was highlighted each night before the regular programs commenced.
As the camporee ended on Saturday evening, the team began to receive items from the several clubs preparing to leave. The team, consisting of Elgin Zeismer, Becky Zeismer, Rebekah Helsius, and Eric Chavez, spent the night sorting through the food and equipment and loading them onto the trailers. They were assisted by Jim Parish from the Wisconsin Academy Lighthouse Thrift Store, which also benefitted from the donations.
No one imagined the extraordinary outpouring of goods received. “I was hoping we’d get a few sleeping bags, but I was overwhelmed with the amount of food!” said Zeismer.
There was an abundance of canned goods, rice, dried beans, peanut butter, juice boxes, dry cereal, cases of shelf-stable milk, sauces, pasta, Big Franks and textured vegetable protein. Even fresh produce, such as carrots, beets and apples, was donated.
As for camping equipment, they received 20-lb. bottles of propane, camp chairs, tables, stove, airbeds and tarps. The "Street Team" ministry that was the catalyst for the collection received 32 sleeping bags, 18 mats, 10 small tents and seven tarps, along with a few backpacks and other smaller items.
Zeismer is filled with gratitude when she looks back on the hours of labor that went into the collecting and sorting. “Many, many people will be blessed by this effort! Please pray that God will bless each individual who will be receiving these items," she said. "What a mighty God!”
The trailers were taken to Green Bay where the team continued sorting through the donations. Although food items already have been distributed to the Green Bay Junior Academy, as well as other ministries of the church, the team is still working to transport some of the tents to Florida where those camping supplies will be shipped to the Pathfinders in Cuba.
— Becky Zeismer is the Pathfinder area coordinator for Northeast Wisconsin, and Michelle Green is a Lake Union Conference intern; the original article was posted on the Lake Union Herald website on Sept. 5, 2019.