CAA Experiences the Magic of Giving

February 25, 2016 | Larry Hiday

One of Webster's definitions of magic is "an extraordinary power or influence seemingly from a supernatural source." That would certainly be the perfect description of what took place on Nov. 19, 2015, at the Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) annual worthy student fundraiser.

Students Kyle and Mitchell, just back to this Battle Ground, Wash., school after a trip to Alaska to help with a week of prayer, shared their testimony and music. Magician Pete McLeod provided the entertainment, showcasing acts of magic, both explainable and unexplainable.

But the real magic for the night came through the testimony of keynote speaker and CAA alumna Brithny Ochoa and the community response to her address. Ochoa, the first member of her family to attend college, told of her mom’s financial struggles to afford Christian education and the way the community rallied to make sure Ochoa was at Columbia.

“It is really amazing to see how God worked in her life,” says Elizabeth Saldana, a CAA senior who attended the event.

Rick Bowes, pastor of the neighboring Meadow Glade Church, agrees. "Brithny’s story needs to be shared so more people can realize the impact their generosity has on students’ lives in this community," he says.

Giving and philanthropy, part of the warp and woof of Columbia, aren’t limited to fundraisers alone, as exemplified by community outreach programs and the giving of gifts. The community outreach by students takes many forms, both individually and as classes. This year they have included chapels and weeks of prayer for elementary schools, working with the community service center, and handbell performances at the Portland Marathon, Bonneville headquarters and Chuck’s Produce.

Students also generously provide gifts to others and the school, with CAA being the recipient of a coach bus, an amphitheater, a school sign and, from this year’s seniors, a projector, screen and 3-D printer. Outreach and gift-giving came together at the annual CAA Headstart party for kids who wouldn't have otherwise had Christmas. Students shopped for gifts from the kids’ lists for “Santa,” and then gave them out at a Christmas party that brought joy to all involved.

The magical and surprising response to Ochoa’s address this year also brought joy to all involved: a total of over $160,000 toward student scholarships and assistance. It seems that with the history of the generous community that supports CAA, it shouldn't be a surprise, but then God’s gifts often surprise us, from a Baby born in a manger to a King willing to die for His people.