Monday, February 22, 2010

Students Throw Hoops of Hope

Article Reprint from Montgomery News / North Penn Life

Students throw "Hoops for Hope"

By Tony Di DomizioFor North Penn Life Sink a free throw, help another Zambian youth get a place to sleep.

Feb. 21, Immanuel Church of the Nazarene in Towamencin will see close to 400 youths shoot free throws into 18 basketball nets in order to raise money to build dormitories for students in Twachiyanda, Zambia, and to provide for care centers for orphans in Swaziland.

Hoops of Hope will run from 1 to 7:30 p.m., and all of the participants are the 400 or so youths in the church’s Upward Basketball League.

The event can be attributed to coincidence and being at the right place at the right time.

When Richelle Holnick, 13, a Pennridge Central middle schooler, attended a Revolve concert in Philadelphia, she witnessed a speech from 15-year-old Austin Gutwein about his nonprofit organization he started in 2004 called Hoops for Hope, which raised money for children in Africa orphaned by AIDS.

“That experience showed me what one kid can do,” Richelle said. “If we wanted he said he would e-mail everyone a way to start their own Hoops of Hope and the money will go to his organization to send over. I really wanted to help them out.”

At around the same time, Marie Jansen was reading “A Hole in Our Gospel,” which mentioned Gutwein and his effort.

Jansen and Holnick, unbeknownst to one another, approached the youth pastor at the church with the same idea and the same message.

“We got together,” Richelle said, “and now we are getting to do this.”

Each child participating in the event will get a sponsor to donate money toward their day of standing at the free-throw line shooting 1,000 baskets in honor of the children of Zambia and Swaziland.

“After I found out I was able to do this, I was happy that I could help and that other kids could help too,” Richelle said.

Youths will be broken up by groups and proceed to shoot hoops. Each one will try to sink 1,000 baskets.

“The idea is kids are coming in and getting sponsors to raise money, and that money will go to build a dorm in Zambia, where Austin Gutwein has raised money to build a school,” said Richelle’s mother, Cathy Holnick. “These kids have to walk so far for school, that they are sleeping in the school. They want to build a dorm so they have a place to sleep and they can go home on the weekends.”

Hoops of Hope “shoot-athons” have funded the building of a high school for 1,000 students, a medical lab and a counseling center, according to Holnick.

Most recently, Hoops have helped fund a water project in Kenya and a second medical clinic in Zambia.

The Hoops of Hope universal goal is to raise $580,000 to complete dorms for the high school.

All money collected through Hoops of Hope go to World Vision, a nonprofit that facilitates the building of Hoops of Hope projects.

Because it is in its preliminary year, the church’s Hoops of Hope event will feature only youths in its Upward league.

“Let’s see how we can do with this the first year. In subsequent years, we are hoping we can open it up to the community,” Cathy Holnick said. “Certainly, people can come from the community and be supportive at the event and they can donate as well.”

Individuals can also show up and sponsor a child through World Vision, she said. A World Vision table will be at the event.

Businesses in the community have asked to either be sponsors or to donate prizes.

“We want to make it a festive event and keep kids motivated,” Cathy Holnick said.

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