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There were smiles all around at Marshalltown Christian School – but they were safely hidden under masks, and directed towards customers driving through in trucks. 

As with most of the country during the COVID-19 pandemic, Marshalltown Christian School has had to make changes to their yearly picnic plans. The school’s biggest fundraiser each year, it was a difficult decision to make, Administrator Bethany Wirin said. 

The decision was made months ago to change the picnic from an inside event with a carryout option to a drive-thru to-go picnic held Sunday afternoon at the MCS building. 

Wirin said it has not been the only event this year they’ve had to change plans on.

“We were really planning for a different kind of picnic,” Wirin said. “When things started becoming clear that we should not gather in large groups, we canceled the garage sale and made it a car wash instead [in June].”

The drop-off lane in front of the school was filled with cars shortly after the event began at 11:30 a.m. Interested participants could pre-purchase tickets by contacting the school or buy on-site, and a majority of those who showed up early were the ones who did not make pre-orders, of which Wirin said there were 100. She said the move was a natural step given that on a yearly basis, almost a quarter of sales for the picnic are carryout orders. 

Customers could get a pulled pork sandwich, macaroni salad, baked beans and chips among other things. There were also gluten-free options available to those who needed another choice. A crew of church volunteers were putting the meals together in the building before they were carried out to the car of each customer to enjoy.

Wirin said the money from the fundraiser goes is used to help pay off a loan the school had to take during the construction of their building. 

“That loan has gone from $700,000 four years ago to about $87,000 now,” Wirin said. “So we have just been chipping away at that. We want to be done with that as soon as possible, because it just hangs on a school, hangs on any organization when you have debt. So we don’t want that.” 

She said it has been encouraging to see the response from members of MCS and the Marshalltown community over the picnic given the letdown of not having been able to hold a big event. 

The 15 churches from the Marshalltown area represented at MCS were there, and even the smallest interactions made the event worth it for Wirin and the group of volunteers.

“Just being able to visit at the car, there are people I haven’t seen for six months or nine months, or however long,” Wirin said. “It’s really been a blessing today to do that.” 

Contact Noah Rohlfing at 641-753-6611 or nrohlfing@timesrepublican.com.

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