Sims to help Ghana orphans

Sydney O’Leary, left, and Farragut residents Dianne and Mickey Sims look to help orphaned children in Ghana.
While Farragut residents Mickey and Dianne Sims have a few New Year’s resolutions in mind, both have a much bigger goal: they want to see a lot of houses built for orphans and other poor children in Ghana.

They are supporters of a ministry, Feeding the Orphans, started in 2010 by their friends and former Farragut residents Righ and Kristie O’Leary and their daughter, Sydney. The O’Learys set out to provide food for orphaned children in West Africa.

Over the last few years, though, the nonprofit has expanded to include homes, education, clean drinking water and other essentials. Even with everything they’re doing, the need in Ghana is huge. Now there’s a brand-new goal.

“Part of our dream for 2018 is to start building our first village of homes where eight to 10 children would live with a mom and dad,” Mickey said. “FTO has been renting homes there and has been involved in the building of others. These homes have been safe homes for children at risk. Even the government officials have come to trust and depend on FTO homes.

“In countries where children are trafficked – those children that are in safe homes, the likelihood of being trafficked is practically zero.

The store “Esther’s Hope,” 215 Center Park Drive in the Feeding the Orphans office, is another arm of the ministry. Handmade gift items — such as purses, aprons and scarves — are sent here from Ghana for area shoppers.

“Our goal in Ghana is family preservation,” said Jenny Carlevato, Esther’s Hope store manager. “I want people to be able to keep their kids and be able to feed and educate them. That’s why Esther’s Hope is so important. A lot of children would be in orphanages if their mothers didn’t have a way to earn money through this program.”

Looking back, “We’ve known Righ and Kristie for 15 years,” Mickey said. “We’ve watched the ministry grow out of a small church we all attended.”

“Feeding the Orphans was really started in the heart of the O’Leary’s daughter, Sydney,” Dianne said. “She wanted to find a way to send money to Africa so the kids there could have food.”

With the help of her mother, then-10-year-old Sydney designed a T-shirt to sell for funds. The FTO nonprofit took off and has grown.

To learn more about Feeding the Orphans, visit www.feedingtheorphans.org or call 865-213-2532.