Putting cheer into charity

Octayvia Nance

BEING a blonde-haired and blue-eyed beauty, American fundraiser Karen Sorbo has always had people judge her by her appearance without looking into her heart – and this year her heart is with the children of Port Elizabeth’s Sinethemba Children’s Care Centre.

The free-spirited professional auctioneer Sorbo landed in Port Elizabeth last week to visit the children at the Korsten centre, her chosen charity for this year, to personally see where her support is going.

The “charity coaxer” from Minneapolis, Minnesota, brought a donation for the home and filmed footage for a fundraiser she plans to have when she gets back to the US, where she is aiming to raise up to R200000 for the children’s care centre.

Sinethemba is currently home to 27 abandoned children of all ages. It provides a caring environment with positive influences on children who are disadvantaged and underprivileged. Sinethemba translates to “we have hope” in Xhosa.

In the past, Sorbo has helped Peru with funding for cleft palate surgery; a Namibian church to rebuild its structure destroyed by sandstorms; transported children from Mexico to the United States for medical treatment and been a spokeswoman against female genital mutilation for a drum group from Guinea.

This bubbly personality lives and breathes compassion and conducts more than 100 auctions a year, which are so successful that she is able to fund many charities.

“I decided that, every year, I will select one international non-profit organisation [that I have conducted an auction for or that I was led to from someone else]. From there, I would then donate the fee that I received from conducting the auction to the organisation that I was led to, and give to their needs. My heart’s desire is to see where and how the funds will be distributed, in person.”

She was urged to help Sinethemba by former jeweller Sean Austin, who, after an illness forced him into early retirement, decided to spend his time researching how to connect people internationally with local projects.

“Sean is the reason I am here, he is behind all of this. And we met on Facebook, can you believe that?” Sorbo said.

“I have always believed that there are two important days in everyone’s life – the day you were born and then the day you discovered why you were born,” Sorbo added.

She believes that she was born to make a difference.

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