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Teen party to provide money for orphans

March 14, 2007, 2:10 2961 Author: Zach Hanner Star-News Correspondent If you took a look at Christina and Lara Bergeron, you probably wouldn't notice anything unusual about the teenaged sisters. But if you were to see them this weekend, you'd find two remarkable siblings who have managed to turn fun in to something important

If you took a look at Christina and Lara Bergeron, you probably wouldn't notice anything unusual about the teenaged sisters. But if you were to see them this weekend, you'd find two remarkable siblings who have managed to turn fun in to something important.

On Friday, the Bergeron sisters will be hosting the Shamrock Shindig, a party at Hallyburton Park for eighth-, ninth- and 10th-graders. And while there's nothing unusual about throwing a bash the day before St. Patrick's Day, the reason for the party is unique.

"Last semester, I took world history and we were always talking about Russia and Europe," Christina said. "I was adopted from Russia, and my sister is from the Ukraine, and every day we would be reminded of the orphans that still live in orphanages there."

Their parents, Mark and Janice, kept those children in their minds as well. The Bergerons were so affected by their adoption experience that they formed a non-profit organization called Children At Heart, whose goals are to help find adoptive families for orphans, provide humanitarian assistance for orphanages and generate support for those hoping to adopt internationally.

"Children At Heart began as a result of watching a Barbara Walters segment on 20/20," Christina said. "We watched it with our parents and we knew right away that we needed to give something back."

And while their folks got the non-profit underway, the girls brainstormed ideas to generate funds, calling their own effort Kids Helping Kids. While they considered writing celebrities to elicit donations, the idea of throwing a huge party at the end of the summer seemed a clear winner.

"By organizing a party, we made the whole thing fun for us and our friends as well," Lara said. "Our Back-To-School Blowout party was a huge success."

In fact, the event raised more than $750, and Mark Bergeron used the money to purchase toys for children in a Brazilian orphanage.

"Our dad went down to Brazil dressed up as Santa Claus in the middle of the boiling hot summer," Christina said. "He delivered toys to over 200 orphans, many of them with disabilities."

For her part, Janice Bergeron is thrilled with the work ethic her daughters have shown.

"My husband and I couldn't be more proud of them," she said. "They are working so hard with this. Day and night, it's the only topic of conversation at our home. I can't even use the phone because they're on it all the time."

Jill White, owner of The Smudged Pot coffee shop on Wrightsville Avenue, has also pitched in and is equally impressed by the young ladies' tenacity.

"We've done what we could to support them," White said. "We've let them sell tickets here at The Smudged Pot and publicize the event here. All they needed from me was the initial push in to the effort and they've done the rest."

Christina, a Hoggard freshman, and Lara, an eighth-grader at Myrtle Grove Middle School, are effusive about the impending party.

"We're going to have live entertainment, free pizza, specialty coffee drinks and tons of other things going on," Lara said. "There will also be karaoke and the DJ, for a small fee, will record you singing your favorite song and make a CD. It will be a St. Patrick's Day theme so make sure you wear something green."

And while they expect the event to be fun, the Bergeron sisters will take great pride at the end of the party when they have a hefty donation to make to needy children overseas.

"We used to be in their situation, but we were lucky and got adopted," Christina said. "We really want to help the children that are still living in those places. We owe it to them."

Tickets for the Shamrock Shindig, which will be from 7-10:30 p.m. Friday, are available at The Smudged Pot, 5032 Wrightsville Ave., as well as Hoggard High School and Myrtle Grove Middle School. For more information, call 431-3372, or log on to www.childrenatheart.com.

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