After spending the past two summers on mission trips to Romania, Chelsea Leonard has become so enamored with the plight of the children there that she is soliciting funds to sponsor a child as part of her senior project.
"I'm definitely in love with that country," said Chelsea, the daughter of Dan and Sandy Leonard of Martinez and a senior at Lakeside High School. "It's a beautiful country and the people are beautiful."
Before her summer mission trips to Romania, Chelsea went on a mission trip to Haiti. The teen knows that she wants to continue working with children in underprivileged countries and has her heart set on Romania. She passionately talks about what she did there on her two summer trips.
During the first week of the mission trip, Chelsea and other team members worked with children living in state-run homes. The day camps consisted of singing, arts and crafts and story times. The second week was spent in an actual camp setting, which included sleeping in tents, hiking and ministering to the children.
"I'm definitely going to continue to go on the trips," said Chelsea, who won't go this year because of preparations for college. "I went the first year and I just fell in love with Romania, and I've been in love ever since."
When it came time for Chelsea to do her senior project, she could think of nothing more fulfilling than raising funds to sponsor a Romanian orphan. She hand-picked the orphan, a young boy by the name of Marian, who will benefit from the $2,220 raised through letter solicitations. Money raised to sponsor an orphan goes toward therapy, doctor visits, tutoring, schooling and numerous other necessities, Chelsea said.
While Chelsea is just short of her $2,600 goal, she hopes that the remaining funds will be secured to sponsor Marian.
"It's just a sad story for the children," said Chelsea, who hopes to take a year's break between her sophomore and junior years of college to do an internship in Romania. "It's so awful to hear the stories of the children who have been mentally, physically and sexually abused. You just want to take them all home with you."
Chelsea plans to enroll at Covenant College in Lookout Mountain, Ga., for a Christian-based education. Her missions work in Romania put her in contact with a lot of special-needs children and she questions whether that is where God is leading her.
"Maybe God's calling me to do special-needs ministry," said Chelsea, who wants to be a nurse. "Maybe that's preparation for me to go into that kind of field."
Individuals wanting to help Chelsea reach her $2,600 sponsorship goal can mail contributions to Lakeside High School, c/o Chelsea Leonard, 533 Blue Ridge Drive, Evans, GA 30809.
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