Roaming flamingos raising funds for church

Published 10:20 am Monday, April 5, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Don't be surprised if you wake up one morning and find a flock of pink flamingos in your front lawn.
Jill Siewert, director of the Vacation Bible School for Portage Prairie United Methodist Church, has been planting the gaudy, flamingo lawn decorations in unsuspecting Niles-Buchanan area residents' lawns as part of a fundraiser for the church's summer bible school.
It began two weeks ago when Siewert planted a dozen of the flamingos on the front lawn of the church's pastor Tom Fox.
When Fox came home and discovered the flamingos, he thought it may have been some kind of prank done by his children's friends.
He went out to investigate and found a sign reading: "You've Been Flamingoed!"
The sign went on to explain that the flamingoes were part of a fundraiser for the church's bible school and with a small donation the flock would be moved to a lawn of his choice. The sign also stated that there was an option to buy "flamingo insurance" to guarantee that the flamingoes will not make a return to your lawn.
In addition to raising money and awareness, she also wanted the fundraiser to make people laugh and smile when they see the gaudy flamingoes.
She got the idea from a bible school supply distributor's website and said it has been very well received so far.
Siewert said there are even people who have drove around in an attempt to locate the birds.
The flamingos have now made it to their 14th front yard in two weeks and Siewert plans to continue the fundraiser for another couple of weeks.
Siewert has been sneaking on to front lawns in broad daylight to set up the lawn decorations and has only been caught in the act by one of her targets.
The flamingo fundraiser has already earned almost $200 with donations ranging from five dollars to $50.
The fundraiser and the Vacation Bible School are open to the entire Niles-Buchanan community, so you do not have to be a church member to be "flamingoed."
The Bible School takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon during the week of June 21 to 25 and is free to all who wish to attend. The age range for the bible school is from two years old up to fifth graders.
The theme of this year's bible school is "Lava Lava Island, where Jesus' love flows."
Activities include crafts, games, music, adventure theater and "Bible Adventure" stations.
Siewert is also looking for volunteers to help out with the school.
For anyone in interested in attending the school or volunteering, call Jill Siewert at (269)687-9157.
Registration must be completed by the second week of June.