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Sewickley church mission flies on wings of flamingos |

Sewickley church mission flies on wings of flamingos

| Thursday, April 29, 2010 12:00 a.m

It has become the latest craze to have small pink birds roosting in your yard in Sewickley.

At least that’s Ashlee Hoffman’s impression.

Hoffman, a member of The Presbyterian Church, Sewickley, coordinated a fundraiser using plastic flamingos, and said the idea caught on fast. There is a long waiting list of those who want to help send 34 senior high youth group students and seven adults to Montego Bay, Jamaica, to build a preschool.

“I have people calling wanting to know how they can get them in their yard,” she said last week standing outside Jill Stehnanch’s “flamingoed” home on Walnut Street.

By the end of last week, the church’s senior high youth group had raised more than $4,000. The June 20-26 trip will cost about $1,200 per person.

“I was hoping for maybe $1,000,” Hoffman said. “I can’t believe how this has exploded. It threw me for a loop.”

Having heard about a similar fundraiser about 13 years ago when she was in a Johnstown church youth group, Hoffman said her group talked about but never used the flamingo idea.

But she never forgot it, and recently did some research on it.

People from the community or church first pay to sign up people they know to be “flamingoed.” Members of the youth group then visit the person’s yard at night to plant the pink birds.

In the morning, the residents awake to find their yard has been taken over by 10 flamingoes, one of which has a note tucked into a plastic bag hanging around its neck.

The note congratulates the yard’s owner on being “flamingoed,” explains the fundraiser and asks for a donation. The birds roost in the yard for 48 hours, after which they migrate to another lawn.

The yard owner can specify another “victim,” and is asked to call Hoffman with the name or leave a donation in the plastic bag. The person can call the church to have the birds removed sooner.

“I was putting my 7-year-old to sleep, and I heard the commotion, but I thought maybe they were putting flamingos in the yard,” said Stehnanch, a member of the church. “We had seen them in other yards. Everyone loves them.”

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