Fulton County 6-Year-Old Boy Sets Giving Pace for Atlanta Gala

ATLANTA (Oct. 21, 2010) –With his hair neatly brushed, and his button-down shirt tucked-in, Will Merchant, 6, confidently entered the W Atlanta – Buckhead hotel to deliver an original piece of his artwork and a $500 check to representatives of the international relief and development organization Food For The Poor.

Will Merchant

Before the Atlanta gala started, Angel Aloma, Food For The Poor’s Executive Director, had not only an opportunity to speak to the bighearted boy, but also the privilege of receiving his thoughtful gifts. Later that evening, as Aloma addressed attendees, he beamed proudly as he shared Will’s message of spirit and love.

The youngster’s generosity warmed hearts and reaffirmed the importance of investing in children’s futures. Proceeds from this year’s annual Atlanta Food For The Poor event, New Hope, New Beginnings, will be used to build schools in Jamaica. As master of ceremonies, the Emmy Award Winner, Jovita Moore, from WSB-TV Channel 2 Action News, emphasized the importance of an education.

Funds raised at the event will be used to construct Mount Hindmost Basic School in Clarendon, Jamaica, and water and sanitation projects will replace dangerous pit-latrines at existing schools. Educational opportunities like safe facilities, and supplies, like folding desks and reading books, give impoverished families island-wide hope for the future.

  The Merchant Family and Angel Aloma

Will was inspired to help victims of Haiti’s catastrophic earthquake when he heard other children calling Atlanta’s 104.7 The Fish, to donate their allowance or do odd jobs to raise money for the cause. To meet his goal, Will sold his paintings to neighbors, friends and family members.

When asked why he decided to help those he had never met before, Will said, “God led me in my heart to do that.”

“We were so delighted to see Will take such a heartfelt interest in helping the earthquake victims,” said Beth Merchant, Will’s mom. “Our hope is that Will remembers how meaningful this experience has been for him and others around him. We can’t wait to see where his heart takes him next.”

The evening included live music by Lethal Rhythms, a silent auction, dancing, and a memorable dinner with friends prepared by principal sponsors W Atlanta - Buckhead and MARKET. Bidding on silent auction prizes such as exclusive art and collectibles from the Caribbean and Latin America, designer jewelry, vacations, golf and dining packages offered opportunities for guests to shop and donate to the cause. Aroma Ridge, Inc. rum cakes were distributed to event guests as they left the party.

Nawal Shadeed and Carolyn Shadeed

“It feels so good to support an organization that is fiscally sound; more than 96 percent of all its donations go to programs that help the poor,” said Lynn Hanna, event committee member.

“In poor Jamaican communities, schools can offer children an oasis for learning,” said Nawal Shadeed, Event Chairwoman. “School for these children is essential. Through education, they can escape the poverty that surrounds them.”

“The time I spent on the event was enjoyable and well worth it,” said Sarah Overstreet, event committee member. “A society is judged by how well we treat the less fortunate among us.”

New Hope, New Beginnings committee members include Susie Hagley, Lynn Hanna, Sylvia McClure, Kathy Murphy, Sarah Overstreet, Dr. Jason Regis, Carolyn Shadeed, Arlene Smith, Margaret Stenglein, and Michelle Wattley.

Event sponsors, included: American Nicaraguan Foundation, The Coca-Cola Company, The Pereira Family and Toca Enterprises, LTd.

  Lynn and Fred Hanna

Food For The Poor, the third-largest international relief and development organization in the nation, does much more than feed millions of hungry poor in 17 countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This interdenominational Christian agency provides emergency relief assistance, clean water, medicines, educational materials, homes, support for orphans and the aged, skills training and micro-enterprise development assistance, with more than 96 percent of all donations going directly to programs that help the poor.

For more information, please visit www.FoodForThePoor.org.

Jennifer Leigh Oates
Public Relations
954-427-2222, ext. 6054