Kids serving up pancakes to benefit Haitians

Caroline Crisler and Susan Ellis remember donating their shoes to the children of Haiti when they were small.

So do Strahley Benson and sisters Kasey and Katie Meyers, although the youngsters might be forgiven if the memory of those 1,000 pairs of shoes, collected when they were just 4 years old, is a little hazy.

Now that they have reached the ripe old age of 10, they and the other members of their fourth-grade Sunday school class are joining to aid victims of last month's earthquake in Haiti.

Tonight, the girls will be among about 30 children hosting a Shrove Tuesday pancake supper for the public and their congregation, Shandon United Methodist Church.

"We kind of came up with the idea at the same time" as the teachers, Caroline said.

On the Western Christian liturgical calendar, Shrove Tuesday is the festive final gathering before Ash Wednesday and the commencement of the 40-day contemplative period known as Lent.

In ancient times, pancakes and other rich products were consumed in anticipation of the ritual fasting that took place during Lent, which leads up to Easter. Eastern Orthodox Christians began Lenten fasting on Monday.

It has been a while since Shandon UMC has hosted a Shrove Tuesday supper, but this cause has inspired the congregation.

"We all know that we are called to serve, and God put this in our path," Lesli Wood, director of children's ministries, said. "For them to have a chance to do something, hands-on, means something."

The fourth-graders will decide where to send the money, choosing among a number of United Methodist Church relief projects, including a clinic and orphanage in Jeremie, Haiti. As of midday Monday, they had raised $750 in ticket sales and donations.

The idea was born out of some quick hallway brainstorming the Sunday after the earthquake between Wood and two fourth-grade teachers, Karen Meyers and Mary Carlisle Benson.

Meyers said the fourth-graders were amazing in their quick grasp of the situation in Haiti and their even more rapid-fire urge to respond.

"We took the idea back into the classroom, and 40 kids unanimously said yes," she said.

Last Wednesday, the five giggling girls gathered at the church to sell tickets and drum up support for the pancake supper during the regular Wednesday night dinner and Bible study.

Lillian Cochrane readily purchased a ticket.

"I had wondered where I could help Haiti as I watched the news," she said.

Ten-year-old Susan Ellis said it was hard to "think about what we have" in comparison to the poor children of Haiti, many of whom are now homeless.

But when the children, attired in red aprons, begin greeting guests this evening at 5:15 p.m. to serve up pancakes, grits and sausage, they will have a tangible sense of giving, Wood said.

They'll also have a lot of help.

Some dads will be at the grill flipping the pancakes, and Shandon member George McIntosh, a regular at the cash box during Wednesday night suppers, will help collect funds at the door.

It's the first time the fourth-graders have hosted such a dinner, he said. "Everybody needs a chance to do, to help, whatever the cause."

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