Sunday School Kids Save Lives With Chocolate Chips

At St. Mary’s Episcopal Church in Arlington, Virginia, the fourth-grade Sunday school class raised enough money to buy dozens of life-saving nets for NetsforLife®, Episcopal Relief & Development’s program partnership to fight malaria in Africa.

Last spring, teacher Nina Bacas, Episcopal Relief & Development’s Diocesan Coordinator in Virginia, began teaching her students about the Millennium Development Goals. In particular, they focused on malaria and how it’s transmitted through mosquitoes. After she read from the book The Blue Sweater about one man’s life changing dramatically when he received a mosquito net, the kids were ready for action.

“This particular group has a lot of energy – they get fired up!” Nina said with a laugh. The class decided to help prevent malaria by selling cookies to benefit NetsforLife®. Over several Sundays, the kids made posters about the sale and hung them around the church. The day before the April 26 event, each student’s family baked cookies and packaged them in dozens, priced at $12 a bag.

“We had many tens of dozens,” said Nina. “Our sale slogan was ‘$12 = 1 dozen = 1 malaria net’!” Other signs proclaimed, “Every minute 1 child dies from Malaria,” “Chocolate Chips Save Lives” and “Love Another’s Life as Your Own.”

The class planned to sell the cookies at coffee hour. Following the 9:00 a.m. service, the students held the posters at strategic locations in the church. They had expected the sale to last an hour or more, so both the kids and Nina were shocked to see the cookies disappear in just 10 minutes.

Counting the proceeds, the excited students found they had made $888 – enough for NetsforLife® to provide 74 long-lasting, insecticide-treated nets to families. Since one net covers up to three people, Nina said, the kids did the math and calculated that they’d be helping 222 people.

“It was amazing that in 10 minutes we made enough money to help a whole village!” one student said. “It was so fun baking cookies at home and helping people in Africa at the same time,” said another.

Although the kids wanted to do another fundraiser the very next month, Nina persuaded them to hold off a bit. But the now-fifth graders soon began planning an Italian dinner benefit to take place December 4. The students will serve their guests restaurant style and make a presentation about Episcopal Relief & Development’s work. Proceeds from the evening will go to Love’s Harvest, the organization’s program partnership in Malawi.

“The evening will belong to the kids,” said Nina, noting that the cookie sale achieved her goal of inspiring them to care for those in need. “It was very empowering for the students to know that they can help change the world.”

For more information about Episcopal Relief & Developments work in preventing malaria in Africa, visit our NetsforLife® page. To support NetsforLife® or other programs worldwide, please go to