Friday, April 25, 2014

Willy James Wonka and the Service Project

James's third grade teacher gives each of the students the opportunity to do extra work to earn a Bachelor's degree, a Master's degree and a Doctorate degree.  He's completed the first two, and is now working on the third, which requires him to complete a service project.  We were thinking of all the things he could do for a service project, when Grandma Wheeler emailed with the idea to help raise funds for the members of their branch in South Africa to go the temple.  The closest temple to Port Alfred is the Johannesburg temple, which is a 13 hour bus ride, which would cost $150 for each person (plus other expenses for the trip).  The average family in the area makes $200 per month, so they need a little help to achieve their goal.

When I was in high school, I was given the opportunity to travel to Europe.  I had to earn the money to do this, so we made 5,000 suckers and sold them at school and also sold See's Candies.  I thought about having James sell suckers.  But as the Easter season was upon us, I thought that chocolates would be a better fit.  So, I found a recipe for "Kool-Aid Truffles" on pinterest and thought, "anything with Kool-Aid in it has got to be easy." So, we tried out six flavors: cherry, orange, strawberry, lemon, berry and grape.  We packaged them like this:

But we sold them like this:

First I put James's picture on my Facebook page with a message he wrote:
To Centerville people:
Hello, my name is James Astling. I am doing a service project for my Grandparents who are serving an LDS mission in South Africa. Some of their branch members would like to go to the temple, but they don't have enough money to rent a bus for the 13 hour drive to the nearest temple. So, I am making chocolate cremes to sell for Easter baskets and sending the money to them. Each package is $3.00 and contains six chocolate cremes. The flavors are orange, black cherry, strawberry, mixed berry, grape and lemon. If you would like to purchase a package or many package, please post your request here. I will deliver them Thursday or Friday before Easter. We made a bunch but my brothers are buying a lot of them, so get them before they are gone!

The last line is very true.  Spencer, D.J. and James started buying quite a few.  Spencer took to buying a few after every meal!

The recipe is really very easy, but the amount was overwhelming!  I received 124 orders just from my Facebook post. Then we decided to announce it to the Relief Society women in our ward.  James went into their class and they clipped a microphone on his shirt, then he read the paragraph he put on Facebook.  Mark went in with James, and he said all the women were goo-goo-eyed and ready to give James whatever he wanted.  We sent around a sign-up sheet and received 165 more orders.  As word got around we received more orders, for a grand total of 324 orders/bags.  Which means we made around 2,000 chocolates over two weeks time!

Here are the ingredients for the second batch (so double this amount for 2,000 chocolates):

Our first batch, just the Astling family worked together to make over a few days:

We rolled the chocolate creme centers then dipped them in chocolate and put sprinkles on top to differentiate the flavors.

But as our orders grew, people offered to help us - and boy am I glad they did!
 James, D.J., Bitsy Tullis, Sarah Tullis and Spencer, who looks like he is bowing to Sarah.  They rolled two double batches in one hour!

 For Family Home Evening Night on a Monday, Jason, Trevor and Zach Smith, and Tiffin Tullis came to help.

On the next Tuesday night, our neighbor Carla Henricksen came over to dip and wrap:

Then Paulina Smith came over later to help package:

Thursday and Friday before Easter, some of the neighborhood kids came over to help deliver and collect funds in three neighborhoods.  I organized all the packages (packed in brown paper bags with names and amounts written on them) in neighborhoods, kept the back and side door open in the van as we slowly drove through the neighborhoods.  The kids thought they were so cool with their legs hanging out the back.  That's about as cool as a mini van can get.
Sara and Bitsy Tullis helped again, and Nate Tullis the second day, along with Jack and Allie Pierce and Jacob Adams.  Even though my ears are still ringing from the noise, I was very grateful for their help.  We finished most deliveries in three hours between the two days.

 When James and I were making the last deliveries, he asked me how much we had made.  I told him that I will tell him, but not to tell others because it's such a special project.  He wasn't expecting how much I told him, and when I looked back at him sitting in his seat, he was crying.  I asked if he was ok, and he said, "I'm ok mom, I'm just really happy for the people in South Africa!"  We both held each other and cried over the generosity of those who were involved and thanked each other for working so hard.

This was such a wonderful experience to have during the two weeks prior to Easter.  Helping people along in their spiritual journey to become closer to Christ, who we celebrate during the Easter season, was a highlight of the year and our lives.  I was impressed with James, who didn't complain at all about all the work that was involved.  He was a good worker and seemed to understand the importance of this cause, as did all who were involved.  The timing for this project was perfect for Easter and even more perfect because when we go to South Africa those branch members who will go to the temple, will just have returned right before we get there and meet them!

1 comment:

  1. This just got me bawling. Wow. What a wonderful effort by Lisa, James and everyone else who helped with this massive project! And to know the end goal - that people will be able to receive the blessings of the temple - what a wonderful, spiritual beginning. Love you all! You are awesome! Much love and many hugs!!