Tuesday, May 22 , 2018, 8:31 am | A Few Clouds 54º


Child Evangelism Fellowship Fundraiser a Piece of Cake

School Bible study clubs get a boost with bake sale auction collection of $25,000

Child Evangelism Fellowship held a fundraiser and a good cause was just the icing on the cake sale. Make that “good news,” as in CEF’s Good News Clubs after-school programs.

The Santa Barbara chapter of CEF annually sponsors free Bible study clubs on local elementary school campuses. This year there are clubs at Ellwood, Foothill, Hollister and Vieja Valley schools, and, according to chapter director Colleen Ishimaru, there may be one coming soon to a school near you.

“Our objective is to get on as many public school campuses with our Bible study club as we possibly can,” said Ishimaru, who has been with CEF in Santa Barbara for the past six years. “Last year, we reached over 300 kids locally, and this year we are on track to reach our goal of 500 kids.”

Nearly 150 guests turned out at Fess Parker’s DoubleTree Resort Hotel to help the CEF meet its challenge. Following a buffet dinner and a brief presentation, including a video of student testimonials and a short address by Ishimaru, it was time for the highlight of the evening: the cake auction. The auctioneer for the event was Tim Tremblay of Tremblay Financial Services, who is an alumnus of CEF and the Good News Clubs.

“There’s nothing more precious, and nothing more important than our salvation,” Tremblay said just before the bidding began. “Thank you, CEF.”

It was a shared sentiment among those in attendance, as the organization was able to get $1,000 per cake. Each cake was donated by a local restaurant or bakery, among them Beth Ruiz, whose cake sold four times; Anna’s Bakery; Fresco Café; Lazy Acres; Montecito Confections; NorthSar Coffee, made by Anna’s Bakery; and Santa Barbara Baking Co.

In all, about $25,000 was raised at last week’s Sixth Annual Good News for Our Kids Benefit. Everything the nonprofit CEF does is paid for through the contributions of donors and by fundraising, and the cake sale will provide most of the chapter’s budget for the entire year.

Founded in 1937 by Jesse Irvin Overholtzer, Child Evangelism Fellowship has about 3,400 Good News Clubs in the United States and 40,000 volunteers. More than 700 missionaries operate clubs in 160 countries.

Colorful cakes await the bidding — and the biting — at Child Evangelism Fellowship's cake sale benefit.
Colorful cakes await the bidding — and the biting — at Child Evangelism Fellowship’s cake sale benefit. (Barbara Batastini photo)

Not everyone accepts CEF’s approach, and the organization has been challenged by those who contend the Bible study clubs’ presence on public-school property violates the Constitution’s separation of church and state. In 2001, however, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that CEF’s right to convene on school property as an after-school program was actually protected and guaranteed by the First Amendment’s stance on freedom of speech.

Ishimaru ignores the critics and continues to do her part to try to spread the “good news” to South Coast children. According to her, the CEF has done nothing wrong, nor does it have anything to hide about its practices.

“The kids can’t come to the Good News Clubs unless the parents know what they’re doing,” she said. “The parents have to sign a consent form first, and they are more than welcome to attend any of the groups.

“In fact, I would invite anyone, parent or not, to come and observe, and they can even contact me directly through our Web site if they have any questions.”

— Kevin McFadden is a Noozhawk contributor.

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