‘Noisy Can Kids’ raise ruckus to end malaria

ARLINGTON — It was a bet no kid would pass up.

Double the money being raised for an anti-malaria campaign over the next year, and I’ll let you throw a pie in my face, Pastor Scott Summers told youth at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church.

The friendly bet was first proposed by Maddie Cahoon, now 10, who helped lead the drive. She and a handful of youngsters soon earned the name “The Noisy Can Kids.” Twice each month they would walk around the sanctuary rattling tin cans, a noise that grew louder each time coins were dropped into their containers.

Maddie was inspired to take on the task by a trip her and her mom, Dawn Cahoon, made to New York City in April of last year.

They stopped by the United Nations and saw a big display on the organization’s drive to eliminate malaria by 2015.

The UN is partnering with Lutheran churches in the battle against malaria, Dawn Cahoon said.

One part of the international anti-malarial campaign is providing insecticide-treated mosquito nets throughout Africa. They cost about $10 each.

The disease affected about 219 million people in 2010 and killed an estimated 660,000 people, according to the World Health Organization.

Ninety percent of the deaths occurred in Africa, mostly among children age 4 or younger.

“It happened to really affect her,” Dawn Cahoon said of seeing the impact of the disease and that netting that can help provide protection. “She said, ‘People should do something. It’s preventable.’”

Her mom admits that as an adult, she knows of many worthy causes. “Maybe you should do something,” she told her daughter.

Little did she know how seriously Maddie would consider her comment.

Before she could start, though, Maddie, who just completed fourth grade at Pioneer Elementary School, had to write a letter to the church’s governing council explaining her proposed project.

“She wanted to see if the kids could do something,” Dawn Cahoon said. “The kids didn’t have a ministry of their own.”

Maddie was given the OK, but had to promise to write up progress reports. She also walked to the front of the congregation to give personal updates.

If the drive seemed to be lagging behind its goal, the kids would host a pie social during the church’s coffee hours.

“On all the tables they had empty pie pans with the pastor’s picture in the center,” Dawn Cahoon said. “People would toss change in there.”

Overall, $2,200 was raised. That’s enough for 220 nets. Each bed net is large enough to protect three to four children. Some of the money also may be used for anti-malarial medication.

Summers, the pastor, said the drive “was a fun way to draw attention to a very serious disease.

“Everybody wants to be supportive of kids,” he said. “And when you have a child who wants to do something to help make a difference in the world, I think it’s easy to want to be supportive of that.”

The “pie-the-pastor” event was held after church last Sunday, a chocolate cream pie delivered by hand by Maddie.

“She was very gentle,” Summers said. “She got my face covered for sure, the full pie.”

The pastor didn’t just walk away empty handed.

He got another chocolate pie to eat. This time with a fork.

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

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