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Bringing water to Africa

Sunday, March 4, 2012

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Submitted photo This St. Louis Cardinals modified golf cart signed by 21 former players, including several Hall of Famers, will be one of the items raffled at the Celebrate Hope fundraiser on Saturday.
By Aaron Picar

Southeast Missourian

Heart for Africa, a not-for-profit relief aid organization, will host the third annual Celebrate Hope fundraiser March 10 at the Venue, 80 South Plaza Way in Cape Girardeau. Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

The event will have an informational mission room, presentation, dinner, live and silent auctions and dancing, with music by the Metro Dance Band.

Tickets are $50 and must be purchased in advance by calling Chrisy Wilferth at 579-8685 or at Chap Arnold Insurance, 875 N. Kingshighway in Cape Girardeau. Auction items can be donated to Theresa Birk at 579-5722. All proceeds will benefit Heart for Africa's efforts to provide water for the Project Canaan farm in Swaziland, Africa.

Jeanine Maxwell, Heart for Africa co-founder will be speaking. Maxwell will be giving an update on previous Celebrate Hope projects, the El Roi Home and El Rofi Medical Center. According to Maxwell, her presentation will give a report to the donor base and provide education and awareness of Heart for Africa's work.

"There are a lot of people who want to help but are not sure how," Maxwell said. "We will be building awareness of how ordinary people can help by giving, going or both."

Heart for Africa executive director Jimmy Wilferth said this year's Celebrate Hope theme is "Water is Life."

According to Wilferth, there is not enough water retention for Project Canaan. Swaziland has one rainy season and Heart for Africa is looking to put in a drip irrigation system that will capture up to 70 million gallons of water. Wilferth called it a large campaign with many other organizations from all over the country coming on board to help.

"Water produces more food, which feeds more children, which saves lives," Wilferth said.

Wilferth said there are government programs in place in Swaziland that provide one meal a day. These programs are set to expire at the end of 2012, so it is important the water retention system be completed.

Wilferth said anyone attending Saturday's fundraiser can expect an enlightening and fun evening. The mission room will be set up to teach attendees what the project is all about. People will be able to walk through and see what is going on at Project Canaan with the animals and crops.

Dinner for the fundraising is being donated by area restaurants and vendors. There are numerous items up for bid in the live and silent auctions. A golf cart will be raffled which was signed by 21 former St. Louis Cardinals players, including Hall of Fame members Ozzie Smith, Bruce Sutter and Lou Brock. Raffle tickets are $10 or three for $20.

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Theresa Birk, co-coordinator of Celebrate Hope, said the evening will be a mix of mission-oriented spirituality and fun.

Celebrate Hope began in 2010 in memory of Birk's late son, Jared. The Birks had returned from a trip to Swaziland in 2009 when Jared died in a drowning accident. Part of his memorial fund was used to begin the El Roi Baby Home to take care of abandoned children in Swaziland.

"The most impressive thing is people will really get to see God at work," Wilferth said. "We believe in doing what the Bible says, to feed the orphans and take care of the widows."

According to Wilferth, Cape Girardeau has become the hub of activity for Heart for Africa. Heart for Africa has sent nearly 5,000 people to Africa, many from the area.

This spring the Heart for Africa national headquarters will move to Cape Girardeau from Atlanta. Wilferth, a Cape Girardeau native, will also serve as the organization's U.S. president of operations.

"We have some amazing people in Cape. This is quite a place to live. There are a lot of people with great hearts," Wilferth said.

For more information about the fundraiser and organization, go to www.celebratehopecape.com and www.heartforafrica.org.


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