By Darin Helfend
The chilling sound of children crying from pain and hunger, the hallow eyes of orphans longing for the loving touch of another, the sub-human living conditions in which these children live — to Ukrainian orphans, this is reality.
However, a group of BYU students dedicated to improving the lives of these children will host a benefit concert at the Provo Tabernacle in Provo, Utah, Feb. 16.
The benefit concert, sponsored by the Ukrainian Club and Project Reach Out, aims to raise money to improve the living conditions of orphaned children in the war-torn and poverty stricken countries of Eastern Europe.
Project Reach Out is a non-profit charitable organization founded to help improve the conditions of orphanages in Eastern Europe and Russia, according to the organization”s Web site www.projectreachout.com.
“Children are the most vulnerable victims of poverty,” said Project Reach Out founder Benjamin Becker, 22, a junior from Bountiful, Utah, majoring in English.
Becker, who served an LDS mission to the Ukraine, explained the terrible living conditions of the children in these orphanages.
“The last time I was there to volunteer I asked a nurse how I could help, and she said, ”The children haven”t eaten in 24 hours — could you go get something for them to eat,”” Becker said.
Project Reach Out plans at least one service project annually to ease the pain of starving and underprivileged, orphaned children in these countries.
After receiving enough donations, volunteers from Project Reach Out travel directly to the Ukraine, on their own money, to determine the individual needs of the orphans and buy food, clothing and medical supplies for as many orphanages as they can, Becker said.
Project Reach Out volunteers and builders will be going to the Ukraine this March to fix the physical facilities of orphanages, and will also spend a few weeks later in the year developing an adoption system, Becker said.
Project Reach Out receives donations in all forms, but since the cost of shipping goods to the Ukraine is expensive, the best way to help is through monetary donations, said Project Reach Out volunteer and benefit concert coordinator Emily Morris, 20, a junior from Salt Lake City, majoring in statistics.
The concert features the music of two notable performing groups: Sir Thomas Moore and the Saints — an a cappella group, and the BYU Folk Music Ensemble.
“The concert basically organized itself. I mentioned the concert to Jeff Larsen (a member of Sir Thomas Moore and the Saints) and he volunteered his group,” Morris said.
Sir Thomas Moore and the Saints is an eight-part a cappella group made up of BYU grads and students.
The concert begins at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Provo Tabernacle. Admission is $5, and all proceeds will go to Project Reach Out.
For more information, visit www.projectreachout.com.