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Sunday, October 28, 2007

The Sunday Charity: Americans Saving Russian Orphans

The North Carolina Sun Journal reports:

A New Bern church will hold a fund-raiser Saturday to help support about 60 Russian orphans.

Garber United Methodist Church members and local businesses will gather for the second annual “Holiday Shop to Share.” About 26 vendors will sell clothing, food, jewelry, toys and other items from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the ministry building at the church, which is at 4201 Country Club Road. The church hopes to raise more than $8,000 to send seven people to Makariev, Russia on Nov. 2, said Anne Robertson, the event organizer. Garber supports about 60 children at orphanages in Kovalyovo and in Makariev through the Children’s Hopechest Orphan Ministry program. Church members have traveled to Russia six times to visit the orphans and work on their homes. Robertson has made the trip to Russia five times. She said a group from Garber built playground equipment last year for children at the orphanage in Makariev, which is north of Moscow. She said orphans are treated like second-class citizens in Russia. She said orphans receive a lot of teasing from other children. “But no one, regardless of class, has playground equipment over there,” Robertson said. “So when we built that playground equipment, other kids started coming up and interacting with them. We didn’t plan on that. We just wanted to make something for the kids to play on.”

This year’s Garber team will build wooden bunk beds for the orphan children. “The cutout pieces will be ready, so we’ll go there to bang the parts together,” Roberton said. “We hope this helps because the inside of an orphanage is a pretty grim place.” She said 65 church members send $35 a month to each orphan in Makariev and Kovalyovo. Some of the money has been used to build new walls and floors and install lights in the two orphanage buildings. “We’ve sent six teams there and we’ve never had a person not want to go back,” Robertson said. “We have changed the lives of some of these kids through what we’ve built with our dollars and hands, but they’ve changed our lives, too. This is something that just really touches the hearts of our members.” About 500 people attended the first “Shop to Share” fund-raiser last year. Robertson said she hopes 900 will go this year to raise money for the trip. “Our pitch line for this event is that you can get all of your holiday shopping done at one time this Saturday,” she said. “The event is called Shop to Share because each vendor has made a generous donation to the Children’s Hopechest Orphan Ministry program at Garber Church.” Several local groups will sing at Saturday’s fund-raiser. Pia’s restaurant of New Bern will sell lunch for customers.

More information about the orphan ministry program is available at Anyone interested in more information about Saturday’s fund-raiser can call the church at 637-4022. Garber members will leave Nov. 2 for Makariev. They will spend eight days building the beds and visiting the orphans.

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