A spaghetti dinner will be held on Sunday, Oct. 14 from noon to 3 p.m. at St. Katharine Drexel Church in Lansford. Proceeds will benefit the One Love Foundation, a nonprofit organization founded in 2007 that supports communities in Sierra Leone, Africa.
One Love Foundation regularly gathers food, clothing, medical supplies and more for the African community. Donations are shipped to Sierra Leone to be shared with an orphanage, schools, and a life skills program that helps adult women to learn a trade that can be used to support their families.
"These fundraisers help to feed the community. We are supporting both food needs and education; our big goal is education right now," said One Love Foundation member Chris Reiber, noting that many residents of Sierra Leone aren't looking for a handout, but a helping hand up that will enable them to become self-sufficient.
The foundation has also sponsored farm animals, purchasing geese, goats and cows that supply African families with milk, eggs and meat. They also pay tuition costs for local school children.
"What we would throw away, they would make use of," said Reiber, noting that past donations have included elementary school desks destined for the landfill after local Catholic schools closed, or lightly used furniture donated by area residents.
"Things that we think have no value, they find value in. It's a great feeling to know that you have made a difference."
The One Love Foundation was founded in 2007 to support the Rev. James Sandy's outreach efforts in his native country of Sierra Leone. Rev. Sandy is a missionary priest who is currently called to St. Katharine's.
"Our mission is to help the poor," said Rev. Sandy, who began organizing support for Sierra Leone while living in the area. "My country went through a civil war for 10 years. You understand what war does to a country. During that time, there was lots of destruction and families were displaced. Children became orphans."
Rev. Sandy helped to found an orphanage in Sierra Leone, then focused his efforts on supporting this orphanage and the greater community. Rev. Sandy was later called to St. Katharine's in Lansford. While in Carbon County, he began gathering donations of clothing and medical supplies for his home country.
When St. Katharine members noticed his efforts, they began raising funds to ship the items to Africa. The One Love Foundation was founded the next year to better organize these fundraising efforts.
Rev. Sandy noted that a key charge in the Christian faith is to serve others in need.
"St. James said to us, 'Faith without action is dead,'" said Rev. Sandy. He has been overwhelmed with the congregation's reaction to his outreach efforts and grateful for their support.
Over the past few years the One Love Foundation has continued to raise funds and gather items for the communities of Africa, ultimately shipping six 40-foot containers filled with food, medical supplies, bikes and cars to needy residents.
Supplies have been donated by churches throughout the area, including Lansford, Palmerton and Lehighton. One Love Foundation also sponsored two hand-dug wells, which provide clean water to the Sierra Leone orphanage and the general community.
As volunteers gathered at St. Katharine Drexel to prepare for the upcoming dinner, women patiently measured eggs, milk, and seasoning, mixing it together with freshly ground beef purchased at the Jim Thorpe Market.
While each ingredient was important, Rev. Sandy noted that the most important ingredient for this meal would be "love."
"Everyone is making an effort," he said, thanking the volunteers and those who have donated to make the dinner possible. "I appreciate their efforts and their dedication. I don't have enough words to thank them. May God bless them for their generosity."
To learn more about the One Love Foundation, the organization will offer a free documentary film presentation at the Angela Theater in Coaldale at 7 p.m., Oct. 9.
One Love Foundation founder Marie Stianchie and her brother, Chris, traveled to Sierra Leone in March. They put together a compilation of what the organization has accomplished.
The documentary is a way for the organization to say thank you to those who have supported its efforts.