Social clubs partner to show love to Ukraine orphans through alum's ministry

Posted February 07, 2011

 It wasn't much, but for hundreds of impoverished children in remote villages in the Ukraine, it was a gesture of love and belonging that reached them all the way from Abilene Christian University, nearly 6,000 miles away.

In a first-time partnership, ACU social clubs and Jeremiah's Hope, an alumnus-led ministry, delivered hand-packed gifts to orphans and at-risk youth living just outside the Ukrainian Chernobyl zone as part of an ongoing ministry effort to reach children in the region who are victims of abuse, alcoholism and neglect. Inside a gallon-sized Ziploc bag, ACU students packaged a T-shirt, pens, crayons, toothpaste and socks to be given to each child.

The Christmas outreach effort began when Bonnie Kellum, president of the GATA women's social club, and Marcus Womble, sergeant at arms for the Frater Sodalis men's social club, spent the summer in Ukraine. Both students worked at Pine Branch Christian Camp operated by Jeremiah's Hope. There, Kellum and Womble got to know and love many of the children with whom they shared Bible studies and daily activities. After returning to ACU for the start of the fall semester, they had a desire to do more.

Kellum contacted missionary Andrew Kelly ('01) and his wife, Jenny, and asked if they had needs that ACU social clubs could help meet. The Kellys were well aware that many of the children they knew needed basic Christmas gifts. Thus was a great idea born.

In October, all ACU social clubs were invited to a special event. Their ticket: the basic items - toothbrushes, tubes of toothpaste, boxes of crayons and packages of pens - that would eventually be brought together in the gift bags. The social event collected enough supplies to create more than 100 Christmas bags, which included handmade cards sharing ACU students' love and hope with the children of Ukraine.

In December, Kellum and Womble personally delivered the gifts from the ACU community directly to orphans and at-risk youth, and they did so at their own expense. During their two-week visit, they were able to work alongside the Kellys. Together they passed out the gifts and, in so doing, built relationships with dozens of children who would not otherwise have experienced the joy of Christmas.

Learn more about Jeremiah's Hope at the ministry's website,