Local group helping orphans in the Dominican Republic

Mark Robinson has worked as a volunteer in Central American countries since 2003.
The Palmerston resident has dedicated countless hours to helping the lives of children in Nicaragua, Guatemala, and the Dominican Republic by working at orphanages run by Nues­tros Pequeños Hermanos (NPH), or  Our Little Brothers and Sisters (www.nph.org).
And Robinson is hoping people can find it in their hearts to help him and his team continue their work, which is organized through Friends of the Orphans Canada (www.foto-can.org).
The group, which boasts members from Palmerston, God­erich, Stratford, Erin, and Woodstock, among other locations, is looking for donated items to take on their 2008 trip.
Among the items the group is looking for are:
– personal hygiene items such as tooth paste and brushes, hand and body soap, shampoo, wash cloths, and towels;
– children’s clothing and undergarments, shoes, and adult clothing to distribute to the surrounding villages;
– books, including Spanish to English (and vice versa) dictionaries; and
– school supplies like pencils, crayons, and erasers (pap­er can be bought there).
Also, the theme of the 2008 trip will is music, so the group is looking for the donation of instruments (such as recorders) or funds to purchase them in the Dominican.
Anyone interested can drop items off at Marcon Studio, located at the corner of Highway 23 and Line 90, be­tween Palmerston and Listo­wel. Anyone unable to get to the studio can contact Robin­son at marcon@hsfx.ca  or 519-343-2201.
Going along
Robinson said he would also like to recruit individuals – specifically those who are “musically minded” – to come along on the trip.
The 2008 volunteer plans are already in the works.  Robinson said the group has three teams, totalling 60 people,  that will travel to the or­ph­anage in the Dominican (in groups of 20 every two weeks) to help the children there.
The dates available are:
– Feb. 3 to 17;
– Feb. 17 to March 2; and
– March 2 to 16.
Robinson said spaces are still available and anyone interested can call him (519-343-2201) or Ken Speers at 519-343-5161.
The orphanage is located in the Dominican Republic near the town of San Pedro de Macrois, between Santo Do­min­go and La Romana. 
In 2006 and 2007, the group helped construct a school build­ing for children in the orphanage and in the surrounding villages.
While in the Dominican in 2008, the group will be working on a second school building, though Robinson said there are many smaller projects if people are worried that construction is not their specialty.
“We have had volunteers from many walks of life, ranging in age from 15 to 73,” Robinson said.
Other jobs include handy work, painting, teaching and working with the children, sew­ing, landscaping, crafts, and more.
Making the trip – for either one or two weeks – costs each volunteer $2,500. Volunteers can solicit donations from family, friends, their church, and community service groups, or cover the cost themselves. All volunteers receive a full tax receipt.
For more details contact Rob­inson or Speers at the aforementioned numbers.
Eating to give
Those unable to make the trip can help raise funds for the group – without spending any extra money at all – by taking part in the “Eat To Give” program. In a nutshell, people can purchase vouchers (cards) to pur­chase food, gas, Tim Hor­tons, items at Costco, etc.  All of the businesses involved give the organization about 3% from the purchase of the vouchers.
Anyone interested in helping that way should contact Robinson.
People can also give a tax deductible donation to the orga­nization or become a godparent to or sponsor one of the orphans at any of the NPH sites. Visit www.nph.org for more information.
Other fundraisers
As a special fundraiser, Robinson will be donating the proceeds of the sale of art images and hasty notes from the Dominican, Guatemala, Nic­ara­gua, England, New­found­­land, floral and other miscellaneous projects.
Costs are $49.95. for an 8- by 10-inch image. Art Card hasty notes and coasters are also available for $5 each.
Pat Young, who has been going on the mission trips to the orphanage in the Domi­nican Republic for a number of years, has also come up with a unique fundraiser.  
She has spent many hours crafting a unique and special hand-made quilt and wants to see it go to a good home, while at the same time raising funds to help the children at the orphanage. 
Images of the quilt can be viewed at http://www.image-quix.com/photog.php?id=A94J398 (click on the event,  enter your email address, and enter password 1234). Bids can be emailed to Robinson at marcon@hsfx.­ca. He will post the most recent bids on the site .  Robinson would like to thank everyone who has al­ready sent notes of encouragement or donated items or money.  
“We appreciate your help and most of all the children at the orphanage appreciate it … more than you will ever know,” he said.