Hoops of Hope at Towamencin Church Raises $10K for African Orphans

Immanuel Church of the Nazarene in Towamencin held the Hoops of Hope fundraiser Saturday afternoon where more than 250 youths shot free throws for charity

Another swish was another chance to improve a life in Africa during the Hoops of Hope event at Saturday, sponsored by the church’s Upward Basketball league.

More than 250 youths – some who were community members and not congregants – spent nearly six hours shooting 1,000 free throws on 12 makeshift courts inside the church as part of the nationwide fundraiser to raise awareness and funds for children affected by HIV and the AIDS virus in Africa.

This year’s event garnered $10,525 toward the cause. This was more than double the amount raised during last year’s inaugural event at the Towamencin church.

Hoops of Hope was started in 2004 by Austin Gutwein, now 15. The goal is to shoot 1,000 free throws to represent the 1,000 children orphaned every four hours by HIV/AIDS.

The funds will go toward building a medical clinic in Zambia, completing dormitories for a school and providing for care centers in Swaziland.

“It’s much like a walk-a-thon,” said Jay Geistdorfer, young adult pastor at Immanuel Church of the Nazarene. “The kids are sponsored to shoot free throws. They went out and raised money.”

More than 15 local businesses donated toward the event Saturday, totaling about $1,000 in donations:

  • Chik-Fil-A, Montgomery Township
  • Spring Mountain Adventures, Upper Salford
  • , Towamencin
  • , Lansdale
  • , Lansdale
  • Spanial’s Exxon, Hatfield
  • Pinball Parlor, Franconia Township
  • , Lansdale
  • , Lansdale
  • Merrymead Farm, Towamencin Township
  • Modell’s Sporting Goods, Montgomery Township
  • , Lansdale
  • , Hatfield Township
  • La Paz Salon, North Wales
  • , Towmencin Township
  • , Lansdale
  • First Niagara Bank

“The event was open to anyone who wanted to come in,” Geistdorfer said.

He called the event the church’s “year-end celebration.” Over the past years, the church had taken all 500-plus youths to a Philadelphia 76ers game.

“They were missing a part of the whole season of what we were trying to teach them: Christ is a giving relationship,” he said. “We decided to concentrate our efforts on raising money.”

Business donations aided in giving away top prizes to the high free throw shooters. Two youths received that honor this year: a four-pack of 76ers tickets.

“Throughout the season, Upward Bound is built around basing relationships around Christ,” Geistdorfer said. “It is about the transition of one person, one thing to living life for others.”

The real reward,” he said, “is giving and they are real excited about it. It’s all going to kids who don’t have money.”

Geistdorfer said we are blessed in this country, and sometimes children hear the negative on life.

“We forget we are blessed and we help fortunate kids,” he said. “When the kids hear the numbers … It’s a shame how many in Africa live on a few dollars. When they hear we raised $10,000, Wow! That really helped.”

He said the congregation has “a giving heart.”

“There’s a sense of peace knowing that we can help those who can’t help themselves,” he Geistdorfer said.

Jackson Scialanca, of Lansdale, and John Camiola, of North Wales, were two of the 250 youths who were able to give others a good life.

Camiola said the knockout contest they did during the event – that’s a game where the object is to make a shot before the player ahead of you makes his or her shot, thus “knocking them out” of the game –was a lot of fun.

“I feel really good about it,” he said of the cause.

Scialanca said raising money through basketball was the best part of the event.

“I feel like, when I give to them, they have the same feeling I do when I receive something I like,” said Scialanca.

Visit Immanuel Church of the Nazarene at www.lansnaz.com.

Find out more on Hoops of Hope here.


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