July 15, 2017 10:04:56 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
Visitors to the Hitching Lot Farmers' Market in Columbus July 8 encountered some new vendors -- 10 or 12 of them, all slight of size and eager to please. These little sales reps were assisting their grown-up counterparts at a Lifeline lemonade stand. The "Stand for Orphans" campaign, with its fresh lemonade and assortment of homemade goodies, encourages children to participate in Lifeline Children's Services' outreach to orphans and vulnerable children worldwide. Every dollar raised at the farmers' market stand -- about $450 total -- will benefit the Birmingham, Alabama-based organization's "(un)adopted" ministry.
The idea to set up a Lifeline stand at the local market originated with Dr. Justin and Elizabeth Ann Hall and their Sunday School class at First Baptist Church in Columbus. For the Halls, the cause is deeply personal.
"We adopted our son Alex through Lifeline, and we wanted to do something to help orphans," said Elizabeth Ann Hall. The Halls' daughters, Abigail, now 4, and Anabelle, 6, had done a stand before in the Missouri neighborhood they lived in before moving to Columbus in 2016. Alex, 5, from Colombia, South America, joined the family in April 2016, not long after the family relocated to northeast Mississippi.
"Our kids wanted to do a stand again this summer, and we mentioned it in the Sunday School class, and it grew from there," the children's mother said.
First Baptist Church Education and Missions Minister Marcus Cochran explained that all Sunday School classes at the church are encouraged to take on ministry projects throughout the year.
"They do anything from support Last House on the Block, to making meals, to fundraisers for Life Choices -- all kinds of things," Cochran said. "Many go on medical mission trips as well."
Lifeline's services include not only assisting with international and domestic adoption and fostering, but also support vulnerable children through an outreach called "(un)adopted." There are approximately 153 million orphaned children in the world, cites lifelinechild.org, but that number excludes institutionalized children, children on the streets, or children who are at risk, neglected or abused. Of these children, only .5 percent will have an opportunity for adoption -- so care for orphans has to extend beyond adoption alone. "(un)adopted" exists to reach as many as possible with care for physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs.
The ministry empowers local churches and communities and partners in projects such as establishing a boys' home in Iquitos, Peru, opening the Busega Community School for the Deaf in Uganda, or offering life skill camps and career guidance for vulnerable youth and young adults in Liberia.
Hall said, "They do so much, from providing foster care centers, beds, nanny training, teaching them how to help with emotional issues, because these kids often have very emotional, traumatic pasts. They'll do job training for those that are 'aging out' and have no training, no skills, no money. ... They support orphans in lots of ways."
Anyone can host a lemonade "Stand for Orphans" fundraiser. Free kits are available at lifelinechild.org/stand/.
"We just really like the ministry that Lifeline has and their vision for these kids," said Hall.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.