mystery can
Photo by Ron Headings

(left to right) Jake Headings, David Moser and Matt Suderman took the challenge to eat the contents of an unmarked can in a white elephant gift exchange, in return for a donation to MCC from their fathers.

When one thinks of raising funds for MCC, it’s typically through conventional methods like relief sales, thrift shops, garage sales or bike rides. But sometimes the most unusual events are the most fun.

A small group from First Mennonite Church in Bluffton, Ohio, met together for their annual Christmas meal and white elephant gift exchange, like they have every year for the past 10 years.

One of the items in the gift exchange was an unlabeled can of food. Ron Headings ended up with the can at the end of the exchange. Not wanting to take it home with him, he decided to pose a challenge to the three  college-age sons in the group, Jake Headings (Bluffton University), David Moser (Walsh University) and Matt Suderman (Manchester University). If they ate the contents of the mystery can, their fathers, Ron Headings, Chris Moser and Mark Suderman, would each make a donation to MCC in their names.

With a little bit of peer pressure, the three young adults agreed to the challange. “The can turned out to be 100% cranberry preserves, a tart nightmare,” said Ron Headings.

Louise Wideman, Co-Pastor at First Mennonite, was the one who brought the unmarked can to the white elephant exchange. “We divided the cranberry preserves onto three plates,” she said. “One ate it really fast, one ate it deliberately and one took little bites, but it was all consumed.”

Wideman, who has watched the three boys grow up in the small group, was glad to see her white elephant gift used in such a way. “Generosity can be fun!” she reflected. “We’d like to challenge other small groups to come up with creative ways to use white elephant gifts or other ideas to raise money for MCC.”