La Crosse Sunday school students make international loans

Published On: Mar 11 2013 12:06:15 PM CDT   Updated On: Mar 03 2013 06:39:50 PM CST
LA CROSSE, Wis. -

What if just a few hundred dollars were standing between you and your dream, but there were no banks around where you could get a loan?

That dilemma is a reality for people all over the world.

One Sunday school class at First Congregational Church in La Crosse is helping people in that situation -- one micro-loan at a time.

After a mission trip last year, the students in the middle school class decided to challenge themselves to do something a little bigger. Instead of just temporarily meeting a need, they were going to end a need.

Through KIVA.org, those students are making that happen on an international scale.

"We're donating loans to people probably more than halfway across the world," said 11-year-old Addison Stevenson.

On Sunday, Stevenson and the other students in her class turned hundreds of dollars they raised into $25 micro-loans.

“That small loan, which is pretty small here, can make a big difference there and can help make their business go a lot farther than what it is," said 12-year-old Sidney Livingston.

With the click of a mouse, the students helped more than a dozen people across the globe, like one 20-year-old Mongolian man who needed $375 to start a taxi service.

"The people are just like us. They're just far away," said Addison.

“It doesn't have to be right in our backyard or next door. It can be anywhere around the world, and just knowing that you can help them make a big difference with just one small loan," said Sidney.

Sunday school teacher Scott Tyink said the website helped his class realize it was one thing to give people a hand-out, but what those people really needed was a hand-up.

"We're not just handing some money out, but we're actually trying to give someone -- create a lifestyle, a life for themselves. That's much different than just giving someone $25. We're trying to help them create something sustainable," said Tyink.

The plan is for this to be an ongoing project for the church. According to KIVA.org, nearly 99 percent of all the loans get repaid eventually. So, once the money loaned out comes back to the church, the idea is to keep lending out that same money year after year.

The church is asking the community to join its team to help reach its goal of $1,000 in loans for the year.

So far, the Sunday school students have loaned out about half that amount.