“Eco-Evie” and Earth Day 2023 Celebration at First Congregational in Wisconsin Rapids

by Jacquie Weinhold

This congregation hosted a wonderful Earth Day 2023 Celebration with special speakers and great community involvement.  A Kairos grant through the Wisconsin Conference Creation Care Team helped make it possible.  The keynote speaker, “Eco Evie,” is an amazing young girl with her own apparel company.  Her clothing is made from recycled water bottles and she is dedicated to helping endangered species. Here’s their story about how they made it happen!

We started planning our EcoEvie Earth Day Event in the fall of 2022. We met with our youth group to find out their interests for activities for the school year.  EcoEvie was one of the events that they showed some interest in. We got on the EcoEvie calendar in December, 2022.  In January, I heard about the Creation Care/Kairos grant possibility. I knew this would be a huge piece to making our Earth Day Event successful.  So Sherry Glenzer-Meyer, our youth advisor, helped me write the grant. The waiting game began. In just under a month, we got the call and email that our submission for our Earth Day Event would be sponsored! Now we could finish up making this Event reality.

We made a list of what we needed to accomplish, and applied for additional sponsorships by Wal-Mart and Home Depot. We ordered Wisconsin native pine trees to give away to attendees. We had gotten seed packets from Home Depot. A gift card from Wal-Mart furnished eight lunchables for the models and more seed packets. I crocheted flowers that could be used as coasters or just decorations for the tables. I had ordered bookmarks with endangered animals on them. We ordered four cookie cutters that were shapes of endangered animals and we had an intergenerational Saturday of baking cookies to serve on Earth Day. The cookie cutters were given to attendees through a drawing.  A book written by a boy with autism about orangutans was also given away.

I had pounded the pavement dropping off flyers and talking with people at churches, day cares, and Ho-Chunk Casino’s advertising person. I talked with teachers from Wisconsin Rapids Public Schools that I knew were people who would help spread the word about our event. I contacted our local radio station, AM and FM, and had an ad read for four days several times a day describing our event. A member from our church went to the newspaper that is free to everyone in Wisconsin Rapids, and paid for a front page ad the Wednesday before Earth Day. We even had TV coverage set up with our local station, but, alas, our story got bumped by other breaking news that day.

We had over 50 people attend our event, despite the fact that the Conference had a meeting in Merrill that Saturday. I had several people say “WOW!” After listening to Kelly, Evie’s mom, and Evie share their story. Here are some reviews:

  • Kelly, while sales are awesome, your info that you shared about Autism and your personal touch crushed it. I had a few people say that they were very taken by what you shared. You don’t get that at a craft fair!!!”
  • “It was an amazing presentation and a success for you and Evie!” 

It was definitely a success and we thank the Kairos Grant committee for choosing us.  I was asked about next year…. Stay tuned!

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