By Deborah White*
April 25, 2007 |NASHVILLE, Tenn.(UMNS)
In observance of Malaria Awareness Day, the gathering called attention to the plight of children in Africa and rallied United Methodists around the Nothing But Nets anti-malaria campaign supported by the people of The United Methodist Church.
"This day, O God, we focus on malaria and we resolve to make a difference," said Bishop Robert H. Spain, chaplain of the Publishing House, as he led a special litany for Malaria Awareness Day.
"Praise God for a way to make a difference, particularly in making malaria history. It's infectious," said Neil Alexander, president and publisher of the denomination's publishing agency.
The people of The United Methodist Church are one of the founding partners in Nothing But Nets, a grassroots drive to prevent malaria in Africa through the purchase and distribution of insecticide-treated sleeping nets. Other partners include the United Nations Foundation, Sports Illustrated, the National Basketball Association's NBA Cares, Major League Soccer and Malaria No More.
A donation of $10 pays for the purchase and distribution of one net, which offers protection from mosquitoes that transmit malaria to people at night when they are sleeping. Since its 2006 launch, the campaign has raised more than $5 million -- enough to buy more than 500,000 nets.
"It's an exciting time," said The Rev. Larry Hollon, chief executive of United Methodist Communications. "It is a step of faith that the people of The United Methodist Church, in partnership with others, can make a difference. It's as simple as skipping a lunch, buying a net and saving a life."
In addition to filling a large jar with cash and checks, a steady stream of supporters bought "Buzzkill" T-shirts, watched a video about Nothing But Nets, signed a large banner, wrote notes to children who will receive the nets and wore buttons with images of children from Africa.
"It's very affordable for anybody to be able to contribute a net," said Bonnie Seay, who works as an editor in the children's department at the Publishing House.
Other workers echoed that sentiment and were impressed by the turnout from church agencies.
"I just wanted to do my part," said Sarah Beasley, a Publishing House employee who bought a T-shirt. "Little ones we need to make sure they grow up to be good citizens."
"What a wonderful way to be involved," said Tim Mabry, controller for the publishing agency. "We can save lives."
*White is associate editor of Interpreter magazine.
News media contact: Deborah White, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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