Jan. 13, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Suzy Keenan
The Rev. Charlene Gaspar sells postcards on eBay and uses the profits for church ministry.
By Suzy Keenan*
(UMNS) — An area pastor is turning her passion for postcards into a way
to help the survivors of the tsunami disaster in South Asia.
Rev. Charlene Gaspar, pastor of Gladwyne United Methodist Church in a
suburb of Philadelphia, has been collecting postcards since she was 11
years old. For the past three years, she has been auctioning postcards
from her extensive collection, numbering in the tens of thousands, with
the proceeds going toward the ministry of her church.
Often she has raised $250 per month through eBay auctions, with recent sales as high as $700 in one month.
saw the tsunami disaster as a "horrific situation, producing a
desperate need," and has been moved to direct the proceeds from her
auctions to the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
has been working hard for disaster relief. My congregation has always
been a congregation that has wholeheartedly given its 100 percent share
of connectional giving and has gone the extra mile for special
offerings," she said. "My congregation gives from the heart, and they
will celebrate this donation to UMCOR with me."
hundred dollars per month would be easy, but I would like to raise
$1,000 per month," Gaspar said. "If I wake up in the middle of the
night, I go see how my sales are doing. My husband, Ruben, makes a trip
nearly every day to the post office before going off to work."
She easily spends six hours a day posting auctions on the computer and packaging postcards to mail to customers.
|A UMNS photo by Suzy Keenan
The Rev. Charlene Gaspar has been collecting postcards since she was 11 years old.
as "postcardpastor" on eBay, Gaspar has sold postcards to customers all
over the world. While giving the name of her church on each auction,
she also sees her auctions as reaching out in the name of Christ. People
from different continents have e-mailed her with such questions as,
"Are you really a pastor?" and "I didn’t know women could be pastors."
customers and even non-customers have sent donations, sometimes
including an additional amount above their postcard purchase as a
donation. "People have sent money for the church, sending me $10 on a
sale of $3.50, and ask me to put the rest in the plate," she said.
is a global market, and so it’s amazing what people will buy. I have
sold postcards to people from Israel, all over Europe, Africa, Japan,
South America, Thailand and Hong Kong."
has received more than 8,000 positive feedbacks (indicating customer
satisfaction) from more than 4,251 customers since March 1999. She sells
just about anything in terms of postcards, new or old, even if in
ragged and horrible condition, as those are purchased for scrap booking.
Customers like local or global cards, dogs, cats, floral and art cards,
old documents, stamps and first day covers.
"Your mission field is anywhere you make it," Gaspar mused.
in nursing school in her early 20s, she had wanted to be a missionary
in the United States, but changed those plans when she met her future
husband, Ruben, while both were attending Arch Street United Methodist
Church in Philadelphia. As a registered nurse for 28 years, Gaspar took
care of people who are now members of her church, viewing this as having
nurtured their bodies and their souls. Now, with her own walking
disability, she finds members at Gladwyne United Methodist Church
order to accommodate Gaspar’s walking disability, Gladwyne converted
its downstairs room into a multipurpose room and sanctuary, to make it
upstairs, formerly the sanctuary, houses a home schooling project for
33 children from kindergarten to grade 12, of Christian, Jewish and
Muslim faiths. On Sundays, the church building also hosts a new church
start, a non-denominational Pilipino congregation.
is a small, struggling congregation in a tiny village that used to be a
mill town, and is now surrounded by multimillion-dollar mansions
inhabited by some of Philadelphia’s richest and most famous celebrities.
than feel ‘helpless’ in light of these tsunami events, this is one way
we can come together and provide extra dollars to UMCOR relief in South
Asia," Gaspar said of her postcard ministry.
She welcomes donations of postcards of any sort, in any condition. They can be sent to her at 317 Iven Ave., St. Davids, PA 19087. She can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. Her postcards can be found at www.ebay.com.
hundred percent of all donations to UMCOR go to emergency relief around
the world. As on Jan. 10, contributions to UMCOR for tsunami relief
reached $2 million, a figure that incorporates online giving and
telephone credit card donations but only part of the boxes of checks
received so far.
Internal Revenue Service will allow donors to decide whether to apply
their tsunami relief contributions to the 2004 or 2005 tax years, as
long as the gift designated for 2004 is made by Jan. 31. UMCOR is exempt
from tax under the Internal Revenue Code and qualifies for the maximum
charitable contribution deduction by donors.
More information about UMCOR’s ministries is available at www.gbgm-umc.org/umcor/.
Donations can be placed in local church offering plates or sent to
UMCOR, 475 Riverside Dr., Room 330, New York, NY 10115. Donations by
credit card can be made at (800) 554-8583 or by going online to www.methodistrelief.org.
Contributions specifically for tsunami disaster relief should be designated for UMCOR Advance #274305, "South Asia Emergency."
*Keenan is director of communications for the Eastern Pennsylvania Annual (regional) Conference of the United Methodist Church.