While removing the old Columbia Adventist Academy (CAA) boiler building in the summer of 2009, the fuel storage tanks were exposed, and workers discovered that kerosene and diesel had overflowed sometime in the past, contaminating the surrounding soil. Unexpected and therefore unbudgeted, the contamination nevertheless had to be removed, at a cost of approximately $200,000. Two years later, the ground was restored to health, but the debt remained.
That is, until last November’s fourth-annual Thanksgiving celebration: A Time for Family and Friends.
Two anonymous donors offered to match all donations and pledges given during the evening, up to $100,000. The event was held Nov. 8, 2011, in the beautiful CAA forum, with guests seated at tables decorated by table captains, who provided a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. Testimonies, before and after dinner from Mac Ford, CAA junior; and Steve Hockett, parent, local dentist, and keynote speaker; spoke to the value of Adventist Christian education, specifically at CAA.
The wonderful meal provided by Randy and Debbie Givens and company was first-class, and the entertainment provided by the Stratton Half Brothers, Petey (Pete McLeod), Marky (Mark Holm) and Milford (Doug Mace), had the audience in stitches as Petey and Marky tried to provide a serious, worthwhile concert while constantly being upstaged and interrupted by their half brother, Milford. If "laughter doeth good like a medicine," — then many overdosed that night!
After the entertainment, Holm, Loma Linda Academy vice principal, and Mace, youth pastor for 16 years, shared the importance of Christian education, adding their personal testimonies to those shared earlier by Ford and Hokett.
The appeal by Matthew Butte, CAA principal, to retire the debt for the environmental cleanup found a positive response. After donations and pledges were counted, $40,000 was available for the match, bringing the total for the evening to $80,000.
But God wasn't finished yet.
As Butte was locking the building before heading home, he received a phone call. The person on the other end, after hearing about the final count for the evening, wanted to make sure the school didn't miss out on the full match and would be writing a check for the balance. This brought the total for the evening to $200,000!
The CAA family continues to marvel at God's grace and miracles and at how He uses clay vessels to accomplish His purposes. It truly was and is an occasion for thanksgiving.