Blaine students send Christmas cheer to African orphanage

Published on Wed, Jan 4, 2012
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Blaine high school’s SWAP‚Äąclub sent Christmas gifts – handmade dresses and hacky sacks – to The American School of Douala orphanage, where former Blaine residents Jim and Vivian Bleecker are currently teaching. Photo by Jim Bleecker.

Thanks to several Blaine high school students and families in the community, Santa found his way to the New Destiny Orphanage in Douala, Cameroon (Africa) this year.

Not likely to receive anything beyond much-needed rice and flour, children ages 2 to 16 received an early Christmas present from students at the American School of Douala and their very own handmade dress or hackey sack from students at Blaine High School.

Blaine’s SWAP club lived up to its name – Students With A Purpose – and fulfilled a great need in making 85 dresses (a pattern cut from a pillow case and accented with colorful trim and buttons or flowers) for the needy children at the orphanage.

While the girls selected their favorite dress, the boys were treated to a new game of hacky sack, complete with instructions and practice drills printed in French and English. The foot soccer-like game was a huge hit thanks to the efforts of Blaine senior Makenzie Miller, who crocheted and stuffed more than 30 hacky sacks for her senior project and donated them to the children at the orphanage.

Many of the children have been abandoned by families because of poverty, illness, AIDs or death.

If the children are not adopted within three or four months, they usually become permanent residents and are never adopted. The orphanage houses up to 50 children and has been at or near capacity for the past 10 years.

The gifts were shipped to the American Embassy in Virginia and forwarded to The American School of Douala where former Blaine residents Jim and Vivian Bleecker are currently teaching.