'Dysfunctional Family' Helps Raise $200,000

December 29, 2014 | Larry Hiday

With the prospects of winter storms and high winds, the morning of Nov. 13, 2014, dawned with uncertainty: To what extent would a dysfunctional "family" be able to help raise the needed funds by late that evening? In answer to many prayers, the evening of the annual fundraising event for Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) in Battle Ground, Wash., saw only a dusting of snow and light winds. This was only the beginning though.

The event, themed “A Heart for Thanksgiving” and benefitting the worthy student fund, began with a devotional thought by David Smith, Meadow Glade Church youth pastor, and music by Cierra Saur, a CAA junior. Thanksgiving dinner complete with stuffing, cranberries, mashed potatoes, and pumpkin and chocolate desserts was enjoyed by those who had committed to being present no matter the weather.

Immediately following dinner, the Stratton Half Brothers took the center (and only) stage. This dysfunctional "family" of three soon had everyone laughing, tapping toes, humming along as familiar songs were sung, and asking each other if Susan Loor, CAA registrar, really was an “old college flame” of Milford Stratton, the half-brother most in need of dental and eye care.

Keynote speaker Whitaker Gladden, CAA alumnus, quickly moved those present from laughter to tears as he shared his story of how someone had paid for him to attend CAA. He told how elated he was to hear the news, and shared stories of teachers and students who impacted his life in a positive way, including one student in particular, Janessa Rogers, who is now known as Janessa Gladden, his wife.

One of the attendees that evening said, “You would have to have a very hard heart not to sacrifice to give something after that testimony to Christian education.” There were no hard hearts there though, as everyone pulled together to give a record amount to assure that no child is deprived of the gift of Christian education at CAA. And that’s how a dysfunctional family helped raise more than $200,000. God is always good, but sometimes He surprises us in big ways.