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Photo by Laura Lennie

Photo by Laura Lennie

Christine Harris and her 11-year-old daughter Adina display some of the items their family made for others to enjoy together this Christmas as part of their Up-Cycling for Orphans project. Families can choose from a variety of activities, games and craft kits to use for Advent, with all proceeds going toward the orphan fund at Gospel for Asia.

Events celebrate true meaning of the holidays

Up-Cycling for Orphans benefits Gospel for Asia

By Laura Lennie, News Staff

Christine Harris and her family hope their creativity will bring people back to a simple kind of Christmas for a good cause.

The Stoney Creek residents have made a number of items for families to enjoy together this Christmas as part of their Up-Cycling for Orphans project. Families can choose from a variety of activities, games and craft kits to use for Advent, with all proceeds going toward the orphan fund at Gospel for Asia.

“Modern life has become extremely busy and now technology is stealing away family time as well,” Christine said. “The message of Christmas is supposed to be peace and goodwill, but the pressure and debt Christmas incurs often offers anything but peace. We’d like to call people back to a simpler and more joyous way to celebrate – a Christmas where the focus is more about time spent rather than dollars.”

Christine said the family spent a year working on the items, gathering supplies, coming up with concepts and putting everything together.

“As home-schoolers, we have a bit more free time, being lessons are one-on-one,” she said. “I wanted to find an educational project that would keep us busy in our spare time and have a worthwhile purpose. I have a heart for orphans and children in crisis and I wanted our project to be something that would benefit hurting children somehow.”

Christine said the family put a lot of thought into which items they would make.

“The things we wanted to offer for sale needed to be around family building,” she said. “We didn’t want to make stuff that people would buy just to own more stuff. Also, since we, and many others, are becoming more environmentally aware, we tried to use as much recycled material as we could.”

The family started off by asking friends and neighbours for old Christmas cards.

More than 3,000 cards were donated and became the inspiration behind making activities, games and packaging.

Christine said the family made a list of other blue-box items they could use.

“Quite a few families jumped on board to help,” she said. “Our house became a mini-recycle processing plant. Washed out milk bags and tissue boxes also became package material.”

Christine said Pinterest was a big source of inspiration when it came to generating ideas.

“We looked through Christmas craft ideas and settled on ones that would be easy to make into kits and help families have fun as they prepared for Christmas,” she said, adding the family also invented some games of their own. “Our goal was to make enough Christmas-themed items for 25 families to use for Advent. We surpassed that goal; we have over 1,000 items for sale.”

The family also collected Christmas books and will rent sets of 24 to families that want to read together during Advent.

Christine said the Up-Cycling for Orphans project is ultimately about remembering what’s important.

“The activities, games and craft kits are a fun way for families to spend quality time together during Christmas, while also helping a great cause,” she said. “In third world countries, orphans aren’t just hungry, dirty and lonely, they are abused, exploited, sold and uneducated. I know whatever we raise with our endeavour, 100 per cent of it’s going to feed, clothe, educate and help these precious children in need.”

The Harris family is holding open houses every Saturday in November from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. as well as Nov. 14, 20 and 25 at 7:30 p.m. at 41 Battlefield Dr., where community members can learn more about the project and shop for items.

For more information, contact Christine Harris at 905-664-1131 or christineharris35@hotmail.com.

For more information on the orphan fund at Gospel for Asia, visit www.gfa.org.

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