Campaign update: Drinks4Drinks

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54,000 lives are about to change. (And counting!)

In one night, EastLake Community Church raised $709,034 for charity: water. At Drinks4Drinks, a benefit concert, Pastor Ryan Meeks jokingly suggested they reversed the first miracle of Jesus by turning wine into water.

EastLake Community Church's Drinks4Drinks
The Herding Cats warm up the crowd at Drinks4Drinks.

The EastLake community underwrote the entire event so they could uphold our 100% model and send every penny of the funds raised that night straight to the field. With it, we’ll help our partners, Samaritan’s Purse, teach families in Cambodia to build their own BioSand Filters (BSFs). We’ll also train communities on health, sanitation, and hygiene and show them how to take care of those filters for years to come.

Here’s how it all started.

Drinks4Drinks raising money for charity: water
Drinks4Drinks featured a Water Walk and model BioSand Filter.

In 2010, a church we’d never heard of popped up on our radar. They were trying to raise $16,000 to build wells through a campaign called Drinks4Drinks. That year, they went on to raise over $400,000, giving clean water to 12,500 people in Central African Republic. (Check out their water projects.)

In December 2011, EastLake was the biggest sponsor of our annual charity: ball and gave $100,000 to fund our operations. Twenty-eight church members flew to New York to attend the event and rushed the stage during the live auction, promising to match Tyler Perry’s $500,000 pledge to fund water projects in Cambodia.

These guys go all in.

On August 3, 2012, EastLake hosted their second Drinks4Drinks to raise the $500,000 they pledged in December. Over 2,700 people packed the church hall that had been converted into a concert venue, decorated with LED lights and a four-foot tall disco ball. The parking lot was transformed into a biergarten serving local brews to the jeans and T-shirt-clad crowd, many of whom hadn’t set foot in a church for years.

Pastors of EastLake Community Church host Drinks4Drinks
Pastors Ryan Meeks and Jeremy Johnson emcee.

In between sets by the cover band, The Herding Cats, Pastors Ryan Meeks and Jeremy Johnson hosted a live auction. At the end of the night they had raised enough to provide 54,541 people in Cambodia with access to clean water and exceeded their goal by $209,034!

But this isn’t a one-off event. EastLake has woven charity: water into their ministry and mission. This “church for the rest of us” makes clean water projects a budget line item and gives $5 to charity: water in honor of every first-time visitor. They even have two foosball tables in the children’s ministry area that cost 25 cents per game–all proceeds go to charity: water.

Pastor Ryan, easily moved to tears, urges his church to be “doers of the Word [the Bible] and not hearers only.” EastLake will continue to fundraise as a community though campaigns started on through the end of the year.

-Stacie Zellmer, School and Faith Liaison
charity: water

Want to get your church involved in ending the water crisis? Contact our School and Faith Liaison, Stacie Zellmer, at

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