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    The Upper New York Conference of The United Methodist Church

    news article

    UNY churches, children raise funds in memory of a boy

    May 9, 2018 / By Kathleen Christiansen

    Colin Hayward Toland always had a smile on his face.

    He dreamed of being a police officer, which became a reality when the Ithaca Police Department made him an honorary member at 9 years old and later when the Memphis Police Department promoted him to lieutenant and a member of the department’s tactical unit at 10 years old.

    Colin battled brain cancer since the age of 2, and sadly succumbed to the illness at the age of 10, but he never let his illness bring him down.

    “He brought community back through his plight,” said Pastor Mike Kelly, of the Newfield and Reynoldsville United Methodist churches, who met Colin while serving as chaplain of the Allegiance Law Enforcement Motorcycle Club, for which Colin was an honorary member. “He became a community icon. Every time you saw this young boy, he had a smile on his face, and he never gave up.”

    In memory of Colin, children attending Sunday school and Vacation Bible School at Newfield and Reynoldsville UMCs are fundraising for St. Jude’s Children Hospital – which provided Colin medical care at no cost – and Trumansburg Takes on Pediatric Cancer.

    “The idea of helping both organizations in Colin’s name, to really be able to honor him, his memory, seemed appealing to me,” Pastor Kelly said.

    The children began various fundraisers on April 1 and will continue to raise funds through Aug. 1. Pastor Kelly said it made sense to fundraise during Vacation Bible School because this year’s theme is “benevolence.”

    Kids from both Sunday schools have been selling boxes of candy, the Reynoldsville UMC will have a bake sale and can drive from 8 a.m.-noon on May 12 in front of the Walmart in Watkins Glen, and the Newfield UMC will host a spaghetti dinner, with all proceeds going toward the effort. In addition, both churches are partnering with Texas Roadhouse for gift certificates and sales.

    “I just think that this is an opportunity to really teach the kids how blessed they are and that kids just like them aren’t always as lucky, even though people like Colin didn’t understand that – he always had that positive spirit no matter what,” Pastor Kelly said.

    With more than 168,000 members, the Upper New York Annual (Regional) Conference of The United Methodist Church comprises 865 local churches and 86 new faith communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our mission is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."