Youths fast, work to help people in starving nations

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Local teenagers are ready to give up food for the good of others.

Every year, about 50 youths participate in a 30-hour famine to raise money to fight starvation in other countries.

This year is 18-year-old Britt--nie Durham's sixth fast with her youth group at First Christian Church.

She decided to participate after youth minister John Graler showed a video of impoverished children in other parts of the world.

"I thought it would be a good opportunity to help other kids in Third World countries," Durham said.

The youths solicit donations for the famine, either by the hour or in a lump sum. Durham said she typically raises $200. The group raised $5,000 last year. With a variety of grants, the famine raised $35,000 to help hungry people.

The famine is sponsored by the organization, in conjunction with World Vision, an international Christian relief group. The famine is open to youths in grades six to 12.

This year's funds will benefit communities in Kenya and Rwanda. Twenty-five percent of the proceeds will be returned to local people through Love In the Name of Christ (Love INC) of the Yampa Valley.

"The more money that's raised, the more that comes back to our community," said Pat Jones, executive director of Love INC.

Participants will eat lunch at school Feb. 24, then begin fasting. They meet at First Christian Church that night for Bible study, movies and live music by a teen worship band.

All day Feb. 25, the youths will complete service projects throughout the community. The event ends with a feast that night.

"It's really to feel what it's like to go without food ... to be more aware of world hunger, and they're trying to help meet that need," Jones said.

Durham said she is excited to participate in the event again because she has fun and gets to help others.

"I think it's really neat to be able to give something of myself, like not eating for a small period, to see how much you can help somebody else," Durham said.

Graler said he is looking forward to the event because youths from Hayden Congregational Church are involved this year. He thinks the famine is a good way for youths to be involved in their community and to make a difference.

"There are a lot of awful things in this world that (youths) can't change," Graler said. "But this is one way they really can make a difference. They really can save lives."

For information on the famine, visit www.30hourfamine.org. To suggest a community service project for the youths, call 824-6024.

Michelle Perry can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 209, or mperry@craigdailypress.com.

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