Each year, we reflect back and continue to see the many ways the Lord continues to bless The Raining Season as He works through our children, our staff, and you. For the past twelve years, He has been faithful, and for that, we are grateful. As a global pandemic continued to impact many aspects of The Raining Season in 2021, we still witnessed Him at work at our center and in Sierra Leone.
Here are some of the highlights from the year.
At the end of 2020, our Roots Project was expanding. In December, a total of eight boys were living in the new Boys' Roots apartment, and on January 2nd of 2021, four more girls joined the original four in the new Girls' Roots apartment. The vision, as well as the need to expand The Roots Project, have been a priority since the beginning. Each year, a growing number of our kids inch closer to aging out, and the need to prepare them to become independent adults is expanding. Being able to secure two apartments allowed our vision to become a reality as we were able to expand the number of young adults we can serve through The Roots Project.
In March, we launched The Cotton Tree Collection. The Cotton Tree Collection included two new t-shirt designs. However, the Cotton Tree Collection is so much more than a t-shirt. It offers hope and opportunity. The Cotton Tree, which sits in the center of Freetown, has a long history and is a symbol of freedom in Sierra Leone. Because of the Covering, our children can also experience freedom; freedom in Christ, freedom from the burden of sin, freedom from fear, freedom from poverty, and freedom from hunger. If you did not have a chance to purchase a t-shirt from the collection in 2021, they are still available for purchase today!
In April, The Raining Season received a generous donation from the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone. The U.S. Embassy has partnered with us multiple times over the years. They donated cleaning items, toys, educational materials, and some clothing in April.
We were thrilled to share about our in-country director, Sorie Kamara's wedding in May. Because of our lockdown policies that remained in place, none of our children from the center could attend. However, that did not mean they did not have a special part in the celebrations. On May 28th, Sorie and Ruth held a big party at the center to celebrate their marriage with all of our children and staff who could not attend the official ceremony. They were treated to snacks and drinks as well as music. The children and staff had a wonderful time celebrating the Kamaras!
Reliable transportation is very important for The Raining Season. A reliable means of transportation is crucial as our children depend on it for transportation to and from school as well as medical appointments and court dates. In June, we were blessed to receive our new TRS poda (van).
In June, we also launched Joshua's Meet the Need. Joshua came to our center in 2015. He was diagnosed with epilepsy and autism but receives excellent care in the Hope Apartment. However, Joshua's increasing seizure activity and behaviors associated with his diagnosis meant a new medication to help continue to support his needs. The medication recommended by his neurologist costs approximately $100 per month. To help cover the cost of this new medication, we launched Joshua's Meet the Need to raise the funds to cover this new medication for Joshua for one year. Not only did we raise the money for Joshua's new medication, but in less than 24 hours, we raised enough to cover Joshua's new medication for not one but TWO YEARS!
Our Building Campaign is our largest fundraiser each year. In July, we launched the 2021 Matthew 25 Building Campaign with the need to raise $55,000 by August 31st to continue calling The Covering our home. We shared multiple blog posts throughout July and August, including a tour of The Covering and our 96 Reasons Why we do what we do. We are grateful for the many people who stepped in and served as the hands and feet of Jesus for our children at The Covering in Sierra Leone. Because of your generous support, we were able to raise the money needed to cover our rent for the year.
After eighteen long months of COVID-19 lockdown protocols, our center had its first visitors in July of 2021. Our Executive Director, Lori Pyle, and founder Erica Rust visited The Raining Season. Lori shared an update on her visit as well as the vision going forward with The Raining Season. The trip allowed Erica and Lori the opportunity to brainstorm and dream about the future vision of TRS. They spent every day wondering how TRS can serve more children in Sierra Leone and desiring to have a larger impact on the country's future generations.
July was a busy month between the Building Campaign and a visit to our center. However, it did not stop there. In July, Lily Erb, a sophomore in high school and a member of Trinity Church in Papillion, Nebraska, gave back to The Raining Season in a unique way. She hosted an American Red Cross blood drive at her church. While planning, a Red Cross representative reached out to Lily about the Community Club Program. As part of the Community Club Program, the Red Cross would give money back to a charity for every pint donated. Because of Trinity Church's strong ties to The Raining Season, Lily decided to give back to TRS. The July blood drive had such an incredible turnout that they raised $400 for The Raining Season!
Our kids at the center and in the Roots apartments went back to school in early September. We continue to be grateful that many of our children can attend school at the center and that our outside school is located very close to the center. A new school year meant excitement, new uniforms, backpacks, and supplies for our kids. This year, we were also able to purchase new furniture for our classrooms at the center.
As our kids went back to school, we were once again blessed by the generosity of others. A family originally from Sierra Leone but living in Maryland reached out to The Raining Season to inquire about some of our needs. Their daughter is a student at College Park Academy in Riverdale Park, Maryland, as well as the president of the Interact Club of College Park Academy. This club worked together to provide a generous donation of supplies to The Raining Season. They purchased the items and then shipped them to a relative living in Sierra Leone. Their relative delivered them to our center in September. This was the second story we were able to share about teens in America who are serving their communities and impacting others on a global level.
In October, we had the opportunity to share Lucy's story of redemption. Lucy came to our center when she was two years old. She was adopted by the Diers family in 2011 and joined their family in Iowa. Today, Lucy is fourteen years old and in 8th grade. In 2021, Lucy started her own business, Lucy Love Boxes. This was one of our most-read blog posts of 2021, and it was an honor to share her story on the blog in October.
In November, Katie Wood partnered with The Raining Season for a fundraiser. Katie is an entrepreneur who lives by the philosophy that everything is rigged in our favor. Katie also sells RIGGED hats on her website and generously chooses a new organization each month to receive the proceeds from hat sales. In November, Katie donated the proceeds of RIGGED hat sales back to The Raining Season! Her goal was to sell 100 hats and provide an entire month's supply of rice to The Raining Season.
For the past four years, The Raining Season has been fortunate to partner with Medix, a U.S.-based recruiting company. Medix has supported The Raining Season in many ways over the past four years. They donated several hundred pairs of the "Shoe that Grows'' to our kids. In 2018, The Raining Season was awarded Medix's Core Purpose Award at their annual meeting. They also sponsored the TRS community gala in Sierra Leone in 2018. One ongoing way they supported our kids was through monthly mentor Skype sessions with some of our older children. This year, Medix launched a new program that will continue its philanthropic impact and reintroduce the company to The Raining Season and the Roots Project through an internal campaign. CEO Andrew Limouris announced Medix's Talentomorrow Foundation at a company event. When Medix launched the Talentomorrow Foundation this past summer, they named TRS and a mentorship program for kids in the Roots Project as their first initiative. In November, monthly Skype calls began between our Roots kids and their Medix mentors, and we shared all about Medix's partnership with The Raining Season over the years.
In December, our kids and staff closed out 2021 with our annual Christmas celebration. This year, our kids all received new everyday clothes as well as new African dress clothes. Our kids enjoyed a special meal and sodas for the Christmas party as they played games, sang songs, took pictures, and enjoyed their time together.
2021 once again showed us what a powerful God we serve. Thank you for being part of our story in 2021. We are looking forward to growing the Roots Project, watching the children continue to flourish, and continuing our mission in 2022. Thank you for your continued support!
The Raining Season