Category Archives for "giving"

Christmas for 7000!


Have you started making plans for Christmas?

Have you started putting your Christmas list together?

My wife is getting our Christmas list together.  In fact, she has already started listening to Christmas music.  It seems a bit early to me, but I was reminded by a recent correspondence that it is time to get ready for the Christmas season.

This brings me to today’s post.  I suppose it is more of a challenge.

My friend, Dave Sgro, has been working and serving in the village of Santo Domingo Xenacoj in Guatemala for the past several years.  Each year, he has been conducting a Christmas giveaway for the children in the village.  It started out small, and it has grown to a few thousand.  This year, GO Ministries (Dave’s mission organization) has expanded into a nearby village.  They plan to giveaway Christmas gifts to 7,000 children.  This is a major endeavor with tremendous opportunities to touch the lives of children and their families.

Your help is important to make this happen.  And you’ll need to act fast in order to pull this off for a late December giveaway.  Check out Dave’s video and instructions below for more details.

These gifts will go to kids I have played with and served the past three years in Guatemala.  You will make a difference if you decide to help out.


Here’s a list of the items Dave is looking for in each shoe box:

CHRISTMAS ITEMS (Remove packaging as possible)
1. Tooth Brushes
2. Tooth Paste
3. Combs
4. Brushes
5. Marbles
6. Stickers
7. Jump Ropes
8. Plastic Animals
9. Playing Cards
10. Nail Polish
11. Pens
12. Pencils
13. Erasers
14. Rulers
15. Matchbox Cars
16. Crayons
17. Travel Shampoo
18. Travel Soap
19. Hair Things
20. Lip Gloss

To help you see the impact of past Christmas giveaways, check out this video:

What’s on your Christmas list?

Ice Breaker – We Are The World

Each week on The Stretched Blog, I ask an ice breaker question. The questions are designed to help us get to know each other here in The Stretched Community. I’ll provide my answer to the question here in the post, and then you can leave your response in the comments. While you’re in the comments section, see how others answered the ice breaker question.

On this day (March 7th) 29 years ago, a large group of popular singers released “We Are The World” and launched an initiative (“USA for Africa”) which raised money for Africa by selling over 20 million copies of this hit single.  If you lived through the 80s, you have to check out the video and remember the great hairstyles and attire of the singers.

Today’s Stretched Ice Breaker is inspired by We Are The World.

(I’m always looking for Ice Breaker question ideas.  If you have an idea, send me an email at  If I use your question, I’ll give you credit and share your links.)

Question:  What is your cause?  What is one cause you’d like others to know about?  What is one thing people can do to learn more about this cause?  And what is one thing they can do to further this cause?

My Answer:  If you’ve been reading here for any length of time, you know the people of Guatemala have captured my heart.  This year, I’ll be taking my family back to Xenacoj, Guatemala to work with GO! Ministries.  We will be specifically ministering to the widows and orphans of this area (James 1:27).  To learn more about GO! Ministries click the link above.  Here are a few things you can do to further the cause of GO! Ministries:

  1. Pray.  Pray for guidance and effective ministry.  Pray for the widows and orphans.
  2. Give.  On the website for GO! Ministries, there are a few different ways you can give.  Every bit helps.  I’ve seen the power of a few bucks.
  3. Go.  Go on a short-term missions trip with me to Guatemala.  You can make a huge difference by going to Guatemala for a week.
  4. Share.  Share with others about GO! Ministries.  And share about our trip.

Here’s our highlight video from last year’s trip:

Answer this week’s ice breaker question by leaving a comment. I look forward to reading your response! (As always, feel free to share links.) And keep STRETCHING!

Also don’t forget to sign up for the Stretched newsletter.  Check out this post to find out how to sign up.

A Tidal Wave Of Generosity


Part of my adventure to Guatemala last year included the construction of a house in Xenacoj (Santo Domingo Xenacoj, Sacatepequez).  We built this house with 25 teenagers and 6 adults in two and a half days.  It was an experience I will never forget.  Part of the reason for our success was the leadership of Joshua Crabbs (pictured with me above).  Through his ministry with Casas por Cristo, he has helped to build hundreds of houses for needy families in Guatemala and Mexico.

Another reason for our success was the generosity of The Stretched Community.  Through your generous giving, The Stretched Community donated $8,000 which paid for the materials necessary to build this house.  (Click here to read more.)

This year, our family is heading back to the same village in hopes of making a difference for children, widows, and families.  We’re raising money and saving money to cover the costs of going on this trip.  So far, we’re about 27% of the way towards covering the estimated costs of the trip (estimated at $5,000).

We also set out a goal of raising $8,750 to feed hot lunch to 200 children for six months.  (We also set a STRETCH goal of raising $17,500 to feed these children for a whole year.)  Yesterday was a milestone day in reaching this target.  We received our first gift towards this goal.  A gift of $40 was generously given by someone in The Stretched Community.

To put it in understandable terms, $40 will provide hot lunch to one child for 114 days (over 22 weeks).  $40 will provide hot lunch to 114 children on one day.  $40 will provide hot lunch for 22 children for one week.  $40 may seem like a drop in a bucket compared to the goals listed above, but it’s huge.  $40 literally has the ability to change lives for children in Xenacoj.

It’s my prayer that this will be the start of a tidal wave of generosity.  Just like a small spark from a match can start a massive fire, a simple gift can be the spark that changes Xenacoj forever.

To find out more about how you can join the tidal wave, click here.  Thank you!

Be generous: Invest in acts of charity.
Charity yields high returns.

Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around.
Be a blessing to others. This could be your last night.

Ecclesiastes 11:1-2 (The Message)


How has generosity impacted your life?  When have you been part of a tidal wave experience?

Guatemala Update: What’s The Big Deal About Lunch?

Last week, I shared about our upcoming trip to Xenacoj (see last week’s post titled, Another Leap of Faith).  I also shared about an opportunity to build something bigger again in this small town (click here for more details).  I shared that for just $0.35, one child can receive a hot lunch in this town.  To you and me, this doesn’t sound like a big deal.  But it’s huge.  Watch this video from the organization we’ll be serving with this summer to get an idea of why one hot lunch can make a huge difference.


Now, here’s the question.  Would you be willing to make a small sacrifice to change the life of one child in the town of Xenacoj?  Imagine with me for a minute.  Do you go out for lunch at work?  Say you go out for lunch once a week and the lunch costs $8.75 (that sounds about right).  If you gave up one of your lunches, you could feed one child 5 weeks of hot lunches (or 25 hot lunches)!  That is truly amazing!

As promised, I wanted to give you an update on our support to date.  So far, we have collected $1,121 towards our $5,000 goal required to go on this trip (this is for our travel, lodging, food, etc. expenses).  But we also have a goal to help feed 200 children in Xenacoj.  For $8,750, we can feed 200 kids hot lunches for half a year.  And for $17,500, we can feed 200 kids hot lunches for a whole year (this is the STRETCH goal).  I don’t know how this will happen, but I’m reminded that with faith the size of a mustard seed mountains can be moved.

Guatemala Graphic Challenge 01142013Guatemala Graphic Trip Cost 01142013

Help us close the gap on these targets!

If you are interested in giving, it’s pretty simple.  To give to the “Stolpe Feeding Program Challenge”, go to  At the bottom of the page, choose option 3.  After you enter your payment information, enter a special note to the seller.  The note should read “Stolpe Feeding Program Challenge”.  This will ensure that your donation is counted towards the goal.  It will also ensure that your donation is registered as a tax-deductible donation.  (You can also give money to us, which we would turn over to GO Ministries towards this target.)

Once we start seeing money donated towards this challenge, I will post a target “thermometer” on the side of my main page to give you an idea of where we stand in meeting the goal (and the STRETCH goal).

To give towards our trip expenses, go to  At the bottom of the page, choose option 1.  After you enter your payment information, enter a special note to the seller.  The note should read “Stolpe Family Mission Trip”.  This will ensure that your donation goals towards our GO Ministries expenses.  It will also ensure that your donation is registered as a tax-deductible donation.  (You can also give money to us, which we would utilize for our airfare or we’ll turn over to GO Ministries to pay for our expenses in Guatemala.)

When was the last time you went out for lunch?  What did you get to eat?  How much was your bill?

(My answer:  I went out for lunch on December 31, 2012 with my wife.  We went to Subway and picked up two six-inch subs a bag of chips and two drinks.  Our bill was right around $8.35 (after someone gave us a coupon).)

On The Receiving End – Pay It Forward Comes Back

A simple act of kindness can shift your perspective. [Click to Tweet]

Earlier this week, Leanne and I were out at lunch time as we were dealing with the aftermath of her accident.  As we entered the nearby Subway to grab a quick bite to eat, there was a lady in front of us getting ready place her order.  When we joined the line behind her, she immediately let us go in front of her which initially caught me off guard.  From there, Leanne and I ordered our sandwiches.  Just as we were about to pay for our lunch, the same young lady handed Leanne a coupon for a free sandwich.

She asked for nothing in return.  She simply provided a small piece of generosity that brought a huge shift to my perspective.  You see, we were so focused on the accident and the details related to how it impacted our family.  Honestly, I wasn’t thinking of other people at the time.  But this young lady changed my thinking.  We had an opportunity to thank her as she was getting her drink from the self-service beverage dispenser.  As we briefly exchanged words, we all agreed that the world needed more people who offered this type of simple kindness.

Late in November of last year, I wrote about starting a Pay It Forward Revolution.  I shared that the idea may be utopian, but I’d love to see it work.  The response to the post of okay, but it wasn’t overwhelming.  I suppose I had resolved myself to the fact that this idea was stupid – or just too idealistic.  Maybe I really didn’t believe it could work.  After Monday’s lunch, I changed my mind.  I don’t know if this young lady was part of the Pay It Forward Revolution or not.  I do know that it felt refreshing to be on the receiving end of such simple generosity.  It felt reassuring that it just may work.  Her simple action reminded me that I can do my part through simple Pay It Forward actions every day.  Perhaps, I can make a difference for one person today.

Describe a time when your perspective has been shifted by generosity.  How can you make a difference in someone’s life today through simple kindness?

Help for the Homeless

Last week, I shared about walking on tightropes.  I mentioned that one of the balancing acts that we must endure is balancing humility and pride – especially when it comes to serving others.  As a reminder, Jesus shares in the book of Matthew how we are to proceed when we help the needy:

“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

“So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”  Matthew 6:1-4

It’s clear that we are to help the needy – the homeless, the widows, and the orphans.  But how do we do that in an on-line world?  How also can we spur each other on (Hebrews 10:24) without getting the word out about opportunities to serve?  These are questions I wrestle with as I write today’s post.

Our H.O.P.E. (Helping Other People Everywhere) group is in the process of gathering items to assemble kits for homeless people in conjunction with Good Samaritan Shelter in Phoenixville, PA.  Our goal is to assemble 40 kits, and our group as done a great job so far in gathering items.  But we could still use a little extra help as we seek to finish up this project (which we’ll be assembling at our November 6th meeting).  If you can help out with a few items (or know someone who could help), it would be much appreciated.  Here are the items that we’re still looking for:

  • deodorant (8)
  • shampoo (trial size) (6)
  • conditioner (trial size) (11)
  • nail clipper (25)
  • washcloth (40)
  • hand towel (20)
  • scarf (21)

If you can help out with any of the items, leave me a comment and my wife or I will get back to you.


Are their homeless people in your area?  How do you or how can you help?

Be Generous To The Hungry

As I was looking at this picture, I thought about feeding others.  As Christians, we are called to feed the needy.  This doesn’t start with our political vote (although you may think that will make the ultimate difference).  It starts with each one of us taking action.  Here’s a passage from the book of Isaiah that expands on this thought:

“If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people’s sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You’ll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past.
You’ll be known as those who can fix anything,
restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate,
make the community livable again.

Isaiah 58:9-12 (The Message)

How are you and I being generous to the hungry?  How can we bring light to the dark and shadowed areas of this world?

Today, I’m hooking up with The Sunday Community.  Hop on over here to see what I’m talking about.

How Big Is Your God?

“My God is way bigger than me and my meager expectations.”

(My Facebook status 4/2/2012)

Yesterday, I posted on my blog about my upcoming missions trip to Guatemala with the high school youth group from our church.  As part of the post, I asked The Stretched Community to pray about the trip, and I asked for the community to consider supporting the trip financially.  I shared in the post how much money I needed to go on the trip, and I mentioned a STRETCH goal of $5,000 to help with a special project in Guatemala.  Honestly, it felt awkward asking for these things, and I didn’t know what to expect.

My post went live at 5 AM EST.

At 11 AM EST, I received an email from an old college friend indicating that he and his wife wanted to donate the entire amount – the cost of the trip plus $5,000!

That’s right.  In 6 hours, God provided for my “big ask.”

I was floored and flabbergasted.  I honestly didn’t know hot to respond.  This kind of stuff doesn’t happen everyday.

I really believed that $5,000 was a big STRETCH.  When I spoke with our high school youth pastor about the goal, he said okay, but he indicated that he didn’t think that was possible.  When I called him up yesterday afternoon to share the news, I think he nearly fell off his chair (I’m not sure if he was sitting or not).

I think sometimes we short sell God.  Our faith in God is puny.  It’s like saying, “God, give me a glass of water.”  When in reality, God can give us the whole ocean.  It’s like saying, “God, I need a few dollars.”  When in reality, God owns the mint where money is made.  It’s like saying, “God, help the Cubs win the World Series.”  Oh maybe, this doesn’t always work out.  Just kidding – of course.

You get the idea.  I’m discovering that God has way bigger plans and dreams for us than we realize.  We set the bar way too low when it comes to asking God the big questions and when it comes to believing what God can do in our lives.  We need to learn to have great expectations!

Throughout the day, I received other messages of encouragement with indications of additional support.  My shock continued throughout the day.

So where does that leave me?

I’m going back to the drawing board.  I’ll get back to you with more details on how The Stretched Community can join together to do something great in Guatemala.  Stay tuned for more details to follow.

In the meantime, how have you seen God respond to your “big ask” questions?  In what ways do you need to expand your thinking to get in line with a God-sized response?  How big is your God?

Guatemala – The Big Ask

Two weeks ago, I told you that I made a “Leap of Faith” decision to go to Guatemala this summer with my daughter and other teenagers and leaders from our church.  I’m starting to get excited about the trip, the opportunity to hang out with my daughter, and the chance to serve others in Guatemala.  This is a “leap of faith” decision for several health and logistics reasons, but it is also a “leap of faith” decision for financial reasons as well.  I’ll share more about that in a minute, but I wanted to share with you first about what we’ll be doing in Guatemala.  Check out this short video to get a small glimpse into how we’ll be serving this summer.

Sounds pretty amazing!  Right?

Here’s where the big ask comes in.  I need your support to make this happen.  First and foremost, I need your prayers.  Pray for safety at home, in travel, and on the ground in Guatemala.  Pray for effectiveness in the ministry that we will have with the people of Guatemala.  Pray for God to move in my life and in the lives of those on our team as we take this adventure.  Second, I’d like to ask you to consider how you might be able to support this trip.  I need to raise $1,300 to make this trip possible.  This will pay for my airfare, food, and lodging.  While this may seem like a big goal, I know it’s possible through God.  In fact, I’d like to add a STRETCH goal to this.  I’d like to see if together The Stretched Community can raise an additional $5,000 to support a special project down in Guatemala.  I’ll have more details about that in the coming weeks, but I thought I should throw it out there.  This is part of the STRETCHING experience.

So how can you help?

Consider advertising here on The Stretched Blog.  All proceeds for advertising will be used to fund this trip and for this special STRETCH project.  You can click on the Advertise Here links on the main page, or contact me about doing something different.  You can also click on the Google AdSense links and Amazon Associate links that can be found on the main page.  Every dollar earned through these programs will go to the trip and the STRETCH project.  I guess another way is to consider donating to the project.  I haven’t quite figured out how to make this work yet, but I’d certainly welcome any cash gifts that would make this trip possible.  (Drop me a comment if you’ve got any ideas or want to pass along any donations.)  In the coming days, I’ll add some time of goal thermometer on the main page to help you keep track of where we stand with the goal.

I know it’s a big ask.  Honestly, it’s a bit awkward to even ask.  But I know that with faith like a mustard seed there are mountains that can be moved.  And so I throw it out there to the Stretched Community.

One more thing, pass this along to your family and friends who you think would be interested in making a difference for the people of Guatemala.  Thanks!

What’s the hardest question you’ve ever asked?

Ice Breaker – Breakfast

This morning, I’m coordinating the third annual Sunnyside Up Breakfast Benefit at my office.  For the past three years, I have worked together with a few other co-workers at Siemens in Blue Bell, PA to make breakfast sandwiches with farm fresh eggs, bagels, cheese, and other add-on items.  We sell the made to order sandwiches at the office and donate all the proceeds to a charity connected to our employees.  This year, all the donations are going to the Warriors For Tim FoundationWarriors For Tim is an organization designed to raise organ donor awareness and to help families who are going through the organ donor process or who are on the waiting list for donated organ.  The organization was created to leave a legacy for Tim Raymond.  Tim passed away a couple of years ago after complications from the H1N1 virus (the swine flu) and an infection.  Tim’s dad, John, is a project manager in my department.  I’ve had the privilege of working with John for the past 16+ years.  It’s exciting to lift up John and his family through today’s breakfast.

(If you’re interested in learning more about Warriors For Tim or finding out how you can donate to the cause, click here.)

In honor of today’s breakfast benefit, this week’s ice breaker question is about breakfast.  As usual, I’ll answer the question, and then it’s your turn.  By sharing your answer to the question, you help the Stretched Community to grow as we get to know one another in a fun way.  So here goes….

Question:  What’s your favorite breakfast food?  If it’s cereal, what’s your favorite breakfast cereal?

My answer:  If I had my choice, I’d go with Swedish pancakes.  There’s nothing like the sweet flavor of the buttery and sugary thin pancakes with a mix of toppings.  Whenever I have Swedish pancakes, I think of my grandparents.  My Grandpa Stolpe had a system for eating his pancakes with different toppings.  Every so often, we make the pancakes at our house, and they’re a huge hit every time.

So there you have it.  Now it’s your turn.  Leave your answer in the comments.