Susan Janetti (left)

Susan Janetti (left)

To Zimbabwe, with love from White Rock

Shipping container full of much-needed goods to go to African country

An international buzz filled White Rock Baptist Church last month.

It wasn’t in music echoing through the halls – there wasn’t any.

And it wasn’t in the sandwiches served during a much-needed – and well-deserved – lunch break.

But the buzz was distinctly there, nonetheless, evident in the determined efforts of those who turned out to organize donated goods destined to improve the lives of widows and orphans in Zimbabwe.

“There’s nothing here that’s not going to make a difference,” said Susan Janetti, surveying books, clothing, toys, medical and school supplies, tools and more that have been collected over the past two months and stored at the church in ever-growing stacks.

Janetti is a South Surrey resident who founded the non-profit Zimbabwe Gecko Society with her husband Frank in 2008, in response to the “horrendous circumstances facing orphaned children in Zimbabwe.”

In the years since, the society has become a registered Canadian charity, with projects aimed at helping widows and single mothers become self-sufficient.

The goods being organized last week began the long journey to Zimbabwe on Aug. 30. They are being shipped in a 40-foot container – the cost fundraised by members of the Nanoose Evangelical Church – and are expected to arrive at their destination in mid-January.

Janetti said the generosity of those who contributed to the effort – through donating, time, items or cash – is heartwarming.

“One lady has done over 300 loads of laundry,” she said. “Some people have been here… five or six days a week, just sorting and packing.”

Those helping out want the recipients in Zimbabwe to “feel Canadians’ love,” she said.

Retired teacher Harry Block said he was amazed by what people were willing to do and give once they knew what the project was about and who it would benefit.

In addition to the time he spent helping organize the goods for shipment, Block added 14 boxes of school supplies that he’d had in storage since retiring in 2002 to the cache, along with tools that had belonged to his father-in-law.

“It was a good time to get involved,” he said. “It’s just been sitting waiting for a project.”

Once unloaded in Zimbabwe, the shipping container will be converted into a resource library. Any donated items deemed unsuitable – for example, snow pants – will be sold and the funds used to purchase other necessities, Janetti said.

With the container on its way, efforts to help have anything but eased off, as society members ready for their annual fundraising dinner.

Set for Oct. 19, it will be held at the White Rock Baptist Church, 1657 140 St., and include dinner (with gluten-free options), a silent auction and door prizes.

Tickets, $35, are available by calling 604-531-3654 or emailing zimbabwegecko@gmail.com. They are also available in the church gym on Sundays.