SAFFORD — Not content with saving 25 lives, the children of the Sidewalk Sunday School of 1st United Methodist Church set a new goal: saving 1,000 lives.

The children have been raising money in support of the Imagine No Malaria program in Africa.

On Wednesday, they received recognition for their effort — raising $250 to buy 25 mosquito nets which will help keep at least 25 people safe from the disease — as well as announce that more funds have been raised to buy a 26th net.

“We had one boy bring in $30 of his own money. And sisters that brought in $20 in coins,” said Sherry Brady, Sidewalk Sunday School director. “I’m proud because these kids were the first in our church to commit to this goal.”

Imagine No Malaria is a coordinated effort between the United Methodist Church, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the UN Foundation. Malaria kills an estimated 655,000 people each year, with the majority of victims children under 5 years old and pregnant women.

“The foundations asked the United Methodist Church to partner because we have 300 clinics and thousands of churches in Africa,” said Rolland “Rolly” Loomis, missionary for outreach ministries for the Desert Southwest Conference of the United Methodist Church. “We’re positions to not only raise money but we have feet on the ground there and work directly in the communities that need help.”

The church raises funds for treatment, test kits and mosquito netting. And it’s the netting that’s used as a measuring stick on how effecting the fundraising has been. A $10 net is equated to one life saved — although the nets can comfortably fit over four sleeping adults.

The message is received by the children, who upped their goal to 1,000 lives saved — with an immediate goal of 10 more (or $100) by the end of May.

“They understand how important this is,” Brady said. “They know about the cause, the medicine and the importance of the nets.”

More information is available online at

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