Person of the Week: Paula Heidrick

November 27, 2009 5:16:52 AM PST
An orphanage in Africa is thankful for gifts from a Wake County school, thanks to a local teacher at Holly Springs High School.

Students worked for weeks on a community service project to sew clothing for the children in Mabopane, South Africa.

The small dresses hanging in Paula Heidrick's Apparel Development class tell a big story about students helping orphans halfway around the world.

"I think we have to teach our young people sometimes about the rest of the world. We kind of live in our own little world - especially when we're a teenager - so I'm hoping to open their eyes to what's out there and where they are needed," Heidrick said.

Heidrick learned about the need of the South African children after watching a news story on ABC11 Eyewitness News.

News anchor Larry Stogner's story on another ABC11 Person of the Week, Becky Young, informed Heidrick about the Mabopane Foundation. Young started the organization after a mission trip to the small town.

"Becky was talking about her foundation, the Mabopane Foundation, and how she bakes strawberry pies and sells them to raise money to go over and help these children in Africa," Heidrick said. "And I thought about my responsibilities here at Holly Springs. I teach children how to sew."

Sewing for Service is what Heidrick called the community service project. Students spent weeks sewing dresses, boxers and pajamas for the Mabopane orphanage.

"By my providing the resources for them to do this project, it puts all of us on the same playing field to be able to help someone else," Heidrick explained.

Holly Springs High School senior Ashley Burdette believes all people are connected no matter where they live.

"I think we're all connected," she said. "We're in different parts of the world, but we all share the same things."

Recently the students received another hands-on lesson by litteraly handing their handmade clothing to the woman who runs the orphanage. Mary Lwate, or Mamma Mary as she is affectionately called, visited Holly Springs High School.

"My heart is very happy today to meet these young girls," Lwate said, "it means a lot to me. If you come to our country, it's really changed because of the people here in America."

The students also gave Mamma Mary a check for more than $200 they raised at a football game for her orphanage.

The clothes they made will be given as Christmas presents next month.

For more information about the Mabopane Foundation, click here.

To nominate someone for Eyewitness News Person of the Week, click here.

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