Wingate University students are reaching across the globe to improve the lives of orphaned children. Members of the university’s choral program are working to raise money for a children’s home in South Africa.
The idea started in May when the University Choir toured in South Africa. A group of 31, lead by Director of Choral Activities Dr. Kenney Potter, traveled to Johannesburg to perform and lead worship at Rosebank Union Church.
On the second day of their trip, the Wingate group visited a township called Alexandra. “Alexandra is about the size of the town of Wingate,” Potter said. “There are wall-to-wall people, and all the homes are shanties.”
While in Alexandra, the group visited Thuthuzela, a children’s home supported by Rosebank Union. During their two-hour visit, Wingate students played games and sang with the children, who range from babies to 15-year-olds. “It was an incredibly moving experience, and we all hated to get on the bus and leave,” Katie Humphrey, University Choir president.
The students were so greatly affected by their experience with Thuthuzela that they wanted to get involved right away. Upon learning the children of Thuthuzela need blankets and $50 in U.S. currency could purchase blankets for all of the children, the Wingate students collected about $250.
“We had planned to send the money with the request that blankets be purchased for the kids,” Humphrey said. “We got word before we left South Africa that that need had been met, literally a day or two before, and that our donation would go to other needs of the home.”
Later, they learned their money bought new carpet and a new oven.
“We realized that there is an ongoing need for financial contribution to this orphanage,” Potter said. “The students saw this need and were touched by it. They wanted to help.”
So, the Wingate University chorus has dedicated the entire academic year to raising money for Thuthuzela. Members of the choral program have begun collecting donations at concerts and giving the proceeds from their choir CD sales to the orphanage. Already, the students have raised hundreds of dollars.
To distribute the funds, the choir has teamed up with Rays of Hope, a nonprofit, community-based outreach arm of Rosebank Union Church, which gets the money and ensures it’s used wisely.
Humphrey hopes to see Wingate’s involvement with Thuthuzela expand. “The women who take care for the kids rarely have money left to do anything for themselves,” she said. “We’re hoping to see some of our funds help them out, too.”
The students also plan to make and send Christmas cards to their young friends so they’ll know they are remembered during the holiday season.
Potter and Humphrey realize how important it is for a community, such as Wingate University, to reach out – locally or globally. “I think it’s good for students to realize how much they have, how much we take for granted and how happy you can be with so little,” Potter said.
Said Humphrey: “I think that it’s always important for us to remember that we can make a difference. Maybe we can’t turn the whole world on its axis, but we can do something for these kids.”
The Wingate University Choral Department will perform its Christmas concert, “Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones,” Nov. 30, a Tuesday, at 7:30 p.m. in Wingate’s McGee Theatre. During the concert, audience members will hear how to get involved or make a donation to for Thuthuzela.
“Any donation, big or small, would be so graciously appreciated, by us and our extended family in South Africa,” Humphrey said. “(Our) community is so supportive of us, and we couldn’t keep our mission going without them.”
Find more information about Rays of Hope, at the group’s website, www.rosebankunion.org/rays-of-hope.