Virtual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner to benefit Kenyan children


Ron Snow heard about the Umoja Partnership in Kenya through Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.

Snow and his wife, Linda, traveled to western Kenya to learn more with a group from his church.

“I was moved in ways I had not expected,” said Snow, a Carmel resident who spent two weeks in Kenya in June 2019 and visited with families. “I’ve been involved with Umoja ever since.”

Umoja means “unity” in Kiswahili. The partnership brings people together from different faith communities and different cultures to respond to the urgent needs of Kenya’s children.

“The people of Kenya are kind, they’re loving, they’re joyful,” Snow said. “I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for children and, particularly, vulnerable children. After visiting there, I saw the needs that they have. They are so appreciative of what everyone is doing for them there.”

Snow, a new board member of Umoja Partnership, is serving as emcee of Umoja’s Virtual Interfaith Thanksgiving Dinner from 5 to 7 p.m. Nov. 15. The event will be filmed at Second Presbyterian Church.

“This is our hallmark event,” said Denise Soltis, executive director of the Umoja Partnership. “Lately, we’ve had 200 people get together, but this year we’re not able to meet in person with (COVID-19) numbers on the rise. Normally, we raise about $20,000 to help our food security program.”

Soltis said the food security program is one piece of what the organization does to remove hurdles that keep kids out of school.

The food security program serves school lunch for 3,425 primary school students.

“This year, schools have been shut down since March (in Kenya) and people have not been able to work either,” Soltis said. “So we’ve had to supplement people’s families’ food situation at home because they’re not able to work from home.They don’t have the virtual technology in their homes.They can’t afford computers and internet and things like that. We’ve been feeding over 6,000 people since COVID started.”

Joe Mamlin will be the guest speaker at the virtual event. Tickets are $50, which includes a gift and silent auction.

The $50 tickets cover the cost of a face mask, a year of school lunch for a Kenyan child and the cost of feeding a family this fall.

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