From November 2014 Tips and Tales
Shared by Peggy Reinhold

The British Guiana one-cent Magenta stamp recently sold for 9.5 million dollars. Almost a billion times its original face value! In the past 30 years I have looked at and handled more than 9.5 million stamps. And why would I do that, you ask? Well, because my husband Robert and I served as Presbyterian missionaries in the Democratic Republic of the Congo for 25 years. And when we came home we wanted to continue to help the church in the Congo in any way we could.

We discovered we could raise money by collecting and then selling stamps to companies who in turn sold them to collectors. We started by sorting through used envelopes from businesses, looking for commemorative stamps. From that modest beginning Stamps for Missions was born. It has grown to include individuals, churches, presbyteries, and retirement communities around the country. We now net about $5000 a year.

That $9.5 million paid for one stamp is far different from the three to 20 cents we receive for a commemorative stamp from the Stamp Companies who then sell them to collectors for more than ten times what they pay us. But stamp by stamp we have been able through the 30 years of work to help the church in the Congo with almost $100,000.

We have subsidized the purchase of Bibles, printed hymn books, sponsored university scholarships, organized continuing education events for lay pastors, printed Bible story pictures and Bible lessons, and paid for medicines, surgeries, and transportation. 100% of the receipts from Stamps for Missions go to the church in the Congo. What better way to “go into all the world and preach the gospel”?

The pen pals I’ve made, experiences shared, prayers felt have enriched my life. I’ve reconnected with a “pax” Mennonite young man who worked with us in the Congo in the 1950’s. He happened to see a notice about Stamps for Missions his mother brought home from a circle meeting. “I know that lady,” he said. “We ate at their house many times.” He emailed me, came with his wife to see me here at Sunnyside and we had a wonderful time remembering experiences from our Congo days.

That Stamps for Missions flyer brought me another long-lost friend this year. His wife saw it at a gathering of Presbyterian Women, recognized the name Reinhold and showed it to her husband. They investigated, found we were the Reinholds his family had been good friends with so long ago, and got in touch. We spent a delightful afternoon catching up on 50 years. You never know what a stamp is worth in friendship, in supporting the work of the church, and in reconnecting with others.

Every Tuesday afternoon for the past six years 10 friends here at Sunnyside have helped me with the soaking and clipping, sorting, counting and packaging of the stamps we receive from over 39 states. So, if you have any stamps, albums or collections of stamps and want to help the church in the Congo, come and see me. I live in Hickory Cove and would love to have you join the fun!

Peggy says she stopped collecting stamps a number of years ago because there weren’t enough in circulation to make it worthwhile with the increasing use of email and social media sites — rather than letters with stamps — to communicate. She says she and her late husband collected stamps for some 32 years, raising $75,000 to $100,000 for the church in the Congo. She now lives in the Lakeview section of Assisted Living