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Posted: November 1, 2012 8:44 p.m.

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Spreading the love through the stamp ministry

I found out about the stamp ministry a year ago through my mother who started collecting and cutting out used stamps from every piece of mail that comes to the house. She puts them in this little clear plastic baggie that hangs on the side of the refrigerator on a magnet. She then told me that I should start cutting and collecting used stamps because it is so easy to do and serves a good cause.

The stamp ministry collects used stamps, and after a meticulous process of trimming, sorting and categorizing the stamps at the Shell Point Village in Fort Myers, Fla., the stamps are then sold to stamp collectors around the world. The proceeds of the sales are then used to fund missions in Latin America where Sunday school materials for children are printed in Spanish.

Publicaciones Alianza is a publishing house in Buenos Aires, Argentina, that is dedicated to creating Christian Education materials in Spanish and providing Sunday school lessons and teaching aids to teach Scripture especially for children and young people throughout Latin America.

The income from the stamp sales goes to support preparation, publishing and distribution of a Spanish language curriculum for Sunday schools in Latin America. More than 50 lesson series have been published and are being used in churches of 40 different denominations and missions in 19 Latin American countries.

To date, the stamp ministry has raised a continually growing grand total of $751,361 since the ministry began back in 1972.

Ellen Brewer, wife of Pastor Michael Brewer of Rockdale Alliance Church, has been collecting stamps herself for more than 10 years. She has been collecting stamps and getting others to participate by word of mouth over the years.

"It is an easy way to make a difference by spreading the gospel with something we would normally just throw away," said Brewer. "Any individual can start up their own stamp collection or just as easily be the spokes-person for their church (to organize the collection efforts)."

A box decorated with different stamps sits by the front door as you walk into the sanctuary and people know just to put in their stamps that they've been collecting independently at home.

When there is a large collection of stamps that are turned in, Brewer and the ladies in the church get together for what they call a Stampede to sort all the different stamps before they ship the stammps to Shell Point Village in Florida.

"The most important thing to remember when collecting used stamps is that they cannot be damaged in any way," Brewer said. "If the stamps are torn, wrinkled or ripped, they have no value to the collectors. They must be completely whole."

The general rule of thumb is it's better to leave a lot of the envelope around the stamp when cutting the stamps than to cut too closely. A lot of people including myself thought they're being helpful by cutting around the stamps and trimming it nice and neatly around the edges.

I found that it's better to leave the trimming to the ladies in Florida who have been doing it for decades because apparently a lot of my efforts in cutting and trimming the stamps all nice and neatly left far too little envelope around the stamps and left the stamps in an unusable and non-sellable condition.

Just like my mother a year ago, I've now found myself always looking through stacks of mail - not always my own mail mind you, but other's mail too - to cut out the stamps. When I see stamps on envelopes lying around at my sister's house in Atlanta or stamps on envelopes on various desks here in the newsroom, I quickly snatch up the envelopes and cut out the stamps and politely leave the envelopes, now with a nice square cut out, back where I found the envelopes.

My efforts at the office weren't producing as much of a collection as I would like. That was before I enlisted the help of Teresa Fricke, our administrative assistant.

Teresa now cuts out the stamps of all the incoming mail that ends up on her desk and her stamp collection up in the front office is much more impressive than my embarrassingly dismal collection back in the newsroom. But combined, Teresa's, mine and my mother's make up a pretty good stash to put in the stamp box at the church.

For more information on the Stamp Ministry or find out how you can start your own used stamp collection, feel free to email me at nho@covnews.com or inquire directly at Alliance Stamp Ministry, 15000 Shell Point Boulevard, Fort Myers, FL 33908 or call (239) 466-9792.

Nhi Ho is the copy editor for The Covington News. She can be reached at nho@covnews.com.

 

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