For many, supporting The Raining Season has become a family affair. We have seen families make Skype a monthly priority, and we have seen families travel together. We have witnessed friendships and families grow across oceans. We have also seen children take it upon themselves to raise money for The Raining Season. Last spring, we shared Amalia’s story when her Kids’ Art for a Purpose fundraiser blessed our staff in the midst of the COVID-19 lockdowns in Sierra Leone. Over the years, we have shared stories of lemonade stands and birthday fundraisers led by kids with one goal in mind, to help the children at The Raining Season in Sierra Leone, Africa.
Today, we have a heartwarming story of how the Cooney family has turned supporting The Raining Season into a family affair. The Cooneys—Shannon, Mindy, Posie, 7, and John, 6, live in Southern Illinois, and the family owns a winery there. The family heard about The Raining Season through a friend in 2017, and they knew they wanted to be a part of it. They immediately began sponsoring Sorie, a twelve-year-old boy, in January of that year.
In April 2019, mom, Mindy Cooney, traveled to Sierra Leone for the first time. She had fallen in love with the ability to communicate with their sponsored child through Skype, but the impact of traveling to the center and meeting the children and staff grew her love and commitment for The Raining Season even more. Mindy shared, “I loved everything about Sierra Leone, and it was a privilege getting to meet all of the kids in person and spending time in their world. But the funny part is that I went to be a blessing to them, and in fact, they changed my life forever.” But it didn’t end there. “It was also really special for my biological kids to witness me taking time away from them to spend time being the hands and feet of Jesus for kids and an organization that needed me, too. They had gotten to know some of the kids through our monthly Skype calls, and they know their stories. So I think their hearts grew with mine.”
In 2020, the Cooneys started sponsoring two more children at The Raining Season, a set of brothers, who are seven and nine, and they officially started the process of adopting. At nearly the same time, they also expanded their winery business to a second location in an old building they purchased in their Downtown. “That was a lot to take on all at once, but both things were on our hearts for a long time, and God just happened to open all the doors all at once. So, we really stepped out in faith.”
With a new business location, the Cooneys began planning for what was next. “In October, as we made plans for the winter months, Posie and John asked if they could have a vendor market at our Downtown building and be a part. I don’t exactly know where they got the idea, but they decided they would donate their proceeds to TRS, and Shannon and I were all for it!” So, the Cooneys planned a Christmas Mrkt, and in November, “Love, Posie” and “Lightning + the Thunder,” Posie and John’s businesses, respectively, were born. Both businesses focused on clay jewelry. Together, they made necklaces and earrings, designed their logos, and Posie and John came up with their business names. Although they were unsure of what to expect from their first Christmas Mrkt, John and Posie were excited about the possibility to make money to donate to The Raining Season.
It turns out it was a huge success. On their first day of business at the Mrkt, Posie and John made $546. Mindy shared, “I don’t think it’s any accident that it is $540 to sponsor a child for an entire year, and we hit that number, almost exactly.” Since the Mrkt first opened, Posie and John have made that total around $700, and they are making plans to sell more jewelry. “It was really special to me that people wanted to support Posie and John and also TRS, but it brought tears to my eyes seeing how motivated Posie and John were and how they ran their booth like a real business nearly all by themselves. They were so excited and proud to see the money they were making for their friends in Africa.”
In early January, Posie and John used their jewelry sales proceeds to sign up and sponsor Sarah, a seven-year-old girl at the center. Mindy shared, “It was all them. They did it! The joy on their faces was priceless!” They got to Skype with Sarah for the first time this week, and as you can imagine, they were so excited.
The Christmas Mrkt success has also motivated Posie and John to begin working on inventory for a Valentine’s Day Mrkt. They are already envisioning using their proceeds from a Valentine's Day Mrkt to support their family’s adoption costs, as well as beginning to save for their own trip to Sierra Leone to meet Sarah and the other kids in person.
Thank you to the Cooney family for blessing The Raining Season. Your generosity and kindness not only blessed Sarah and the other children you sponsor but all of our children and staff in a unique way. We are grateful for all of the families that pour into The Raining Season day in and day out through sponsorship, writing letters, Skype calls, traveling, and prayer. Together, we all make a difference.
The Raining Season