By Ashley Wislock
The Daily Item
WATSONTOWN — A locally based orphan outreach program is hosting a fundraiser to help spread its message of love and support to children throughout the world.
Father’s Hope will hold a kickoff fundraiser concert at 7 p.m. Saturday at Revival Tabernacle, 960 Susquehanna Trail, Watsontown.
Father’s Hope’s mission is to provide children living in orphanages around the world with small gifts, such as stuffed animals, jump ropes and coloring books, said Kevin Mertz, who started the group after a 2011 visit to Honduras through Watsontown’s Revival Tabernacle.
Since that time, more than 1,000 children around the world and in central Pennsylvania have received toys through Father’s Hope, something many children never experienced before, Mertz said.
“Since starting this outreach, and communicating with missionaries in various parts of the world, I have been told that many children living in orphanages have never received a toy of any type,” he said.
Mertz’s most recent trip to Honduras occurred in December and he had an opportunity to deliver some of the donated items.
“I will never forget the look of excitement in their eyes, and the smiles on their faces as they received the items,” he said.
Saturday’s event will feature 15 different local young people, some performing their own original Christian music, Mertz said.
During the event, small stuffed animals, jump ropes and new coloring books and crayons will be accepted, as well as monetary donations, Mertz said. The concert is free to attend.
Most of the money collected Saturday will go toward covering shipping costs, Mertz said.
“Our primary expense is covering the cost of shipping these items,” he said. “We recently shipped two boxes of stuffed animals, cards, as well as some other items that had been donated to Father’s Hope, to two different orphanages in Honduras. It cost $266 to ship those boxes.”
With the charity preparing to expand its outreach efforts, Mertz said he is prepping for greater shipping costs in the future.
But shipping costs are small compared to the sense of satisfaction this work gives, Mertz said.
“It is so worth it to send these items to these children as they truly have never received items like this before,” he said. “These children also need to know just how special and loved they are.”