Mt. Ellis Academy in Bozeman Montana appears set to win $500,000 in the Kohl’s Cares for Kids $10M Giveback Contest on Facebook. The Seventh-day Adventist high school is currently in the top twenty of hundreds of 501(c)(3) schools vying for a slice of a $10 million total purse.
In honor of the 10th Anniversary of the Kohl's Cares community giving program, Kohl's will award $500,000 each to the twenty top schools in the Facebook contest. Facebook users can vote for their favorite school up to five times. Each voter has a total of twenty votes.
As of this article's publication, Mt. Ellis Academy has received 109,832 votes, good enough for 17th place. However, the school's director of development and alumni relations, Kevin Emmerson, is taking nothing for granted. Emmerson notes that Mt. Ellis is competing with schools with incredible means at their disposal, and that the school's final slot in the top 20 is not yet certain. The school has been as high as 13th in the rankings, and has dropped to as low as 23rd during the final days of the competition.
Emmerson, who graduated in 1988 from MEA, says that it was his mother who brought the contest to his attention near the end of July. Then, together with principal Darren Wilkins, MEA class of '89, he created a submission proposal for the contest.
Should Mt. Ellis finish among the top 20 schools, Emmerson says the prize money will go toward overhauling the school's outdated sewer system, built circa 1960. The disintegrating clay pipes need replacement very soon. In all, the first phase of the structural overhaul will cost an estimated $600,000. A sense of urgency has compelled Emmerson and others to work 16-17 hours a day, six days a week to drum up votes.
Craig Hadley, a pastor at the CrossWalk Adventist Church in Redlands, Ca., taught film and videography at Mt. Ellis from 2004 to 2007, and served as youth leader at the campus church from '04-'08. He attributes much of his passion for ministry to his Montana beginnings.
When he first found out about Mt. Ellis' bid, Hadley thought it was ridiculous. How could a small Adventist school in Bozeman compete with hundreds of more prominent schools? Nevertheless, he began promoting MEA's long shot to his friends and his congregation. CrossWalk created a voting booth with computers set up to allow the congregation to enter their votes.
Hadley contacted José Vicente Rojas, who directs Volunteer Ministries for the North American Division. Word spread around the General Conference, and Adventists have banded together in support of Mount Ellis. Prominent Adventists on Twitter--Adventist Review contributor Mark Kellner, former communications director Rajmund Dabrowski, and new NAD president Dan Jackson, to name a few--have tweeted their support. Adventists worldwide have joined the campaign. This, for Hadley, is a win in itself.
"I''ve been blown away by unity of Adventist Church," he says.
The contest ends Friday, September 3, and Mt. Ellis appears to have a strong chance of winning. But even if Mt. Ellis should lose, Hadley says he is taking away this important lesson:
"I have felt at times like the church was fragmented, but this has united people, and it has made me excited about being a global church. I was skeptical at first, but to see churches all over the world promoting this...we are all connected at some level. This has shown how God can move in the Adventist church."
This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at http://spectrummagazine.org/node/2629