Special to NeXt

A few years ago I watched "Touched by an Angel." The episode was about homeless people in Africa. At the end of the show, they asked viewers to sponsor a homeless child. I wanted to sponsor one. I have such a nice life and feel sorry for the children who do not have what we have here in America. I thought of an idea to collect $1 from 22 people each month. That would cover the $22-a-month sponsor cost. I have been sponsoring a little girl from Ethiopia for three years. Her name is Lemango Worke.

I am a 12-year-old homeschooler, and I study a lot about missionaries and people of God. Last year, I visited the Buffalo City Mission on a homeschooling field trip and realized that there are homeless children right here in my own community. This made me sad. I found out that it costs only $10 a day to shelter and feed one homeless child. I always had a dream to have a backyard carnival, so I put both ideas together and planned a carnival to help the homeless.

I am doing this because I want to be able to say that I helped kids my age and didn't stand around waiting for something to happen. I will be able to say that I made a difference. I am also doing this because Jesus says to love your neighbor. I know that the only reason why I am not homeless is because God placed me in a family that has opportunities. I could be homeless, and I could be praying that some little girl would help me. God gave me the desire to help, and I must do it for God.

Since this is a home-schooling project, I have done all the planning myself. I have contacted local restaurants and florists for Chinese auction donations. I created billboards, posters, game tickets and information sheets for all my volunteers on the computer, then contacted Insty-Prints, a printer at 7703 Niagara Falls Blvd., which donated the printing. McDonald's and Sam's Club are donating concession-stand items and food, and the ladies at my church and in my neighborhood are donating bake sale items. Tops Friendly Markets will donate penny candy for game prizes. All my uncles, aunts, grandparents and some of the families from my church will run the game booths. There will be a special guest, storyteller Bob Timberlake. (He is really good.)

The carnival is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, June 22, in my back yard at 30 Havenwood Lane, Grand Island. I hope to raise at least $500 (because I don't think we can reach $1,000), which would shelter 50 children for a day. If people want to help the homeless but cannot attend the carnival, they can make a check out to Buffalo City Mission and mail it to my address. (The zip code is 14072). I want to encourage everybody to help me by mentioning a very special donation I received. I got a $10 check in the mail from a former homeless woman. She said she wished she could donate more but is just getting on her feet. She lived at the Cornerstone Manor until four months ago and blessed me for what I am doing to help others.

For information, call 773-6062.

NeXt learned of Brittany's carnival through Mary Beth Popp of the Buffalo City Mission, who says money raised will be used to help the children staying at Cornerstone Manor, the mission's shelter for women and children. Lora Warkentin, Cornerstone director, said while the shelter often gets help from school and scout groups, "the thing that's unusual is this is something she came up with herself. It's just a wonderful thing for a person like her" to do. The shelter takes in children and their mothers who stay "for whatever length of time it takes for the mother to get her life together," Warkentin said, and children who stay there range in age from babies to teens.