This October, the Minnetonka (MN) Church lit up the community during the annual Minnetonka Fire Department Open House. Church staff braved cool weather to give away free flashlights with the church website printed on them and served complimentary hot chocolate and apple cider to families who gathered for the annual fireworks show.

Youth pastor Vanessa Pujic said, “Since the public regularly parks in the church lot and fields during city events, this ministry was a natural opportunity to make connections with people as they walked to and from their cars. The intention was to be a positive presence in the community while asking for nothing in return.”

Volunteer Charlene Lashier reported that the church served well over 200 cups of hot chocolate and apple cider and gave away 100 flashlights. The flashlights were a big hit, especially with the kids, some of whom were dressed as firemen. “We could tell who had been at the booth because we could see them lighting up the night sky as they walked in the dark,” Lashier said.

Gary Davis, principal at Minnetonka Christian Academy, also distributed 100 mints with cards bearing the school’s name and address and stating “You were mint to be at MCA.”

Many people stopped to talk to volunteers at the church booth, both to express appreciation for the freebies and to ask about the church campus. Even after the flashlights had all been given out, people still stopped. Pastor Pujic said she was struck by how many people were excited to visit with church volunteers and just engage in friendly conversation.

Many expressed hope that the church would return to the event next year and pass out more flashlights. According to church staff, that’s definitely the plan. “When you put yourself out there to do something nice with no expectations of someone having to pay or give something in return, it’s amazing how people’s guards come down,” Pastor Pujic shared. “People are receptive to kindness.”

Author: Michelle Rosas, communication secretary for the Minnetonka (MN) Church. This news story was also published in the December 2014 print edition of OUTLOOK.