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American Belarusian Relief Organization Chili Cook Off (March 5, 2011)

Can you imagine going to the grocery store and in the whole produce section finding only some root vegetables and two cucumbers, one of them rotten?   Can you imagine that because your child spent six weeks in America, the family saved enough money to finally put a toilet in the home?  Can you imagine that a child who had visited America for a few summers brought the idea of saying grace before meals back to her family and sparked a spiritual awakening?

Those are the kinds of things related to us by Joe and Danita Strong at the Coffee House held at Grace Community Church on February 6.  Joe shared with us about conditions in Belarus and God’s work through the American Belarusian Relief Organization.

The American Belarusian Relief Organization (ABRO) is a medical respite program serving children who live in or near the radioactive fallout zone from the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 70% of the fallout landed in Belarus, a former Soviet state bordering Russia and the Ukraine. The radiation is still impacting their air, water, and food supplies.

For the children who visit America, six weeks away from their environment significantly improves their immune systems and quality of life. While here, the children are given medical care, dental care, and a vision screening.

We are praying that He will do great things through our participation as well. We now have enough host families to have an ABRO group here in the Charlottesville are, and we’ve had many others volunteer to be relief hosts. We need your support as well.

So, we have the kids in Belarus ready to come, we have local families ready to host, and we have a vision for this inside out mission opportunity.  What’s left?  Oh, yes, money.  Plane tickets still cost money, evidently.  As do travel insurance, chaperones, and visa applications. (Costs for each child are around $2,000.)

You are more than welcome to give directly to this cause.  Simply write a check payable to Grace Community Church with ABRO in the memo line, and send it Grace Community Church, 5146 Dickerson Road, Charlottesville, VA 22911.

You are also invited to help with our community fundraiser, a Chili Cook Off, Saturday, March 5th at Ruckersville Elementary School from 4-7 pm.  We’re going to have some great chili, great prizes, a cake walk, face painting, and live music.  It’s going to be a lot of fun and hopefully raise a lot of money to help get these children out of their radiation-contaminated environment.  We’re trying to raise at least $5,000 to offset the costs of travel, insurance, and a chaperone for the children’s visit this summer.

Businesses and individuals are welcome to help sponsor this event.  We need prizes, such as a gift certificate for your business or a sample product.  We also need bottled water, paper napkins, plastic spoons, and tortilla chips.

Contact Stephen and Beth Walls Mathis at cvilleabro@embarqmail.com with questions or donations.  Thanks!