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Feb 04, 2013  |  Vote 0    0

More than $50,000 raised for Dominican Republic orphanage by Beach hockey dads

Beach Mirror

A group of hockey-playing dads from the Beach are heading to the Dominican Republic with their kids next week for Renourish 2013, a fundraising initiative to cover operating costs for Nuestros Pequenos Hermanos (Our little brothers and sisters) Orphanage.

The group of 10 dads and 14 kids will visit the orphanage Feb. 8 to 11.

They have raised $20,000 in donations, along with a crate full of shampoo, soap, cosmetic, jewelry, wheelchair, bicycle, shoes and volleyball supplies to be shipped this week. A donation of $1,500 is being added on top of each person’s travel costs to the cause, adding up to $36,000 in extra donations.

“I’m hoping for these kids to be able to open their eyes; they live a pretty privileged life,” said Ryan Vincent, the group’s main organizer, who has done the trip three times with his company, Nutri-Lawn.

To raise the money, the group held a movie night at the Fox Theatre on Queen Street East, sold T-shirts and held a charity hockey night at Kew Gardens rink, among other fundraisers.

“We’ll have the chance to live a day in the life of the kids down there,” said Danielle Fitzgerald, one of the kids heading to the orphanage. The kids will each bring an extra suitcase full of items for the children living at the orphanage where they will be helping out in the kitchens, nursery as well as with children with special needs.

The group’s original plan was to spend the week installing solar panels, but Vincent said they couldn’t get the proper batteries donated on time.

“The panels will have to be sent in a later container.”

Instead, the dads will spend the week building a volleyball court with supplies donated by Not So Pro Sports. The kids who play volleyball will hold classes at the orphanage to teach the rules of the game.

The orphanage, which opened in 2003, currently takes care of 280 children.

“It’s quite sad. One third of the kids don’t know where they came from,” said Vincent.

“As tragic as it is that they don’t have families, if you can get them into the orphanage, it’s a good life,” said Vincent, who noted the supplies and money donated will allow for the orphanage to spend less on operational costs, and more on the children.

The group will also hold a barbecue for 350 to 500 people who work in sugarcane fields.

“A lot of these kids have never had a barbecue or tasted a pop,” Vincent said. All of the donations that don’t get used at the orphanage will also go to rural villages.

“You realize you can make a difference,” Vincent said. “For a lot of these kids, it just takes spending time with them.”

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