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To Love Mercy — First Baptist Brookhaven student partners with Friendgirl Things owner to aid orphans in Ecuador

They were given cash. $1. $5. $100. Each of them received an amount and they were challenged to multiply it. The goal was $16,000. The task seemed big, but the challenge was on.

First Baptist Church of Brookhaven youth minister Jason Holmes challenged about 50 young men and women to multiply their gifts for the Casa de Fe orphanage in Shell, Ecuador, founded by Pattie Sue Arnold of Brookhaven. Hannah Moore, 14, has been hard at work to benefit the children, as a part of the Micah 6:8 project. Hannah received $20.

“We’re trying to raise enough money to buy a commercial washer and dryer, which costs about $16,000,” said Sonya Moore, Hannah’s mother.

Hannah went to her mother’s friend, Anita Fenn, owner of Friendgirl Things clothing store in McComb and requested to put a money jar in the store. After hearing about the cause, Fenn decided that wouldn’t be enough.

Fenn and Hannah put together a big event at the store to benefit Casa de Fe, scheduled for June 2. Hannah and her friend, Maddie Chance, 13, are selling $10 tickets to the huge sale event, which will include an Ecuador-themed photo booth and drawings for prizes.

Chance has helped Hannah throughout the fundraising process. Together, they made 120 cupcakes and sold them at church.

“She’s been Hannah’s biggest helper,” said Sonya.

The classmates will work the entire event.

“They’re doing everything,” said Fenn.

The girls will also be selling $5 tickets for a drawing, which will include a $100 gift certificate, designer sunglasses from Moore Vision Optical and other prizes. The sale is from 1 until 6 p.m. Shoppers cannot benefit from the sale if they have not purchased a ticket. Donations will be taken for the photo booth.

The sale will include 10 percent off storewide no exclusions, 20 percent off clothing and shoes, 30 percent off jeans, 40 percent off fashion jewelry and 50 percent off purses. Micah 6:8 Project T-shirts also will be sold.

Hannah will be taking a trip to Shell, Ecuador this summer to visit Casa de Fe and help with construction and with the children.

“I’m excited. It will be a very humbling experience,” said Hannah.

Casa de Fe started out in four rental homes, but now the children have a school, a main house and a playground. The orphanage is in the process of building small cottages for the children. The on average 55-60 children currently live in one house.

The children include those with disabilities who have been abandoned or placed at the orphanage by their parents to receive better care and sexually abused children; and almost all have been neglected emotionally and/or physically before coming to Casa de Fe.

Arnold officially founded the orphanage in 2007, after visiting there in 2001 to refurbish and distribute wheelchairs, and finding herself a foster mother.

“We just hope everybody will come out and support the good cause,” said Chance.

Hannah’s dad also decided to participate in the Micah 6:8 challenge. He bought T-shirts for his employees at Moore Vision Optical, which they wear every Friday. Hannah originally wanted to put a money jar in his office, but he challenged her to find her own project.

She did and is hard at work getting everything ready for the big event.

“I hope everybody comes,” she said.

To sum up Casa de Fe, its mission statement reads, “Believing that all children are created in God’s image, and for his perfect purpose, Casa de Fe is a Christ-centered ministry caring for abandoned and special needs children, providing care in a loving and supportive environment until they can be united with their biological or adoptive family.”