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W.Va. boy raises thousands to drill wells

August 16, 2009|By MATTHEW UMSTEAD

HARPERS FERRY, W.Va. -- One of the "opening lines" Evan Frank used to get people to donate to the charity for which he has been fundraising since April 2008 is pretty simple, but not easily ignored.

"If I could just have a moment of your time, I can tell you how you can save lives," the 8-year-old Harpers Ferry boy recited in an interview.

Along with some other creative fundraising techniques, Evan has raised more than $9,000 for a Christian organization's mission to drill thousands of wells for people in impoverished areas of the world that lack clean drinking water.

Evan is a member of a group of children at Harvest Life Ministries in Middletown, Md., who began raising money for the Life Outreach International-sponsored effort in April 2008, according to his parents, Paul and Misty Frank, who moved to Jefferson County, W.Va., earlier this year.

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"I think with him, there's a greater passion, but all of the kids are doing a fantastic job," his mother said.

"He originally told us he wanted to raise (enough money for) a well on his own," his mother said.

The challenge was to raise $4,800, the average cost of drilling one well, according to OutReach International.

"We're thinking at (that) point, you're 7, how are you going to raise $4,800?" Misty Frank said. "But we told him, 'if you can raise $4,800, we're going to take you at some point on a trip to South Africa' and he constantly corrected us, it's not 'if,' it's 'when.'"

Evan began fundraising by accepting donations for brownies he baked. But they were no ordinary brownies.

"He calls them 'blessed brownies' because he prays over them, that when people eat them, they'll be blessed and then they'll open their pockets," his mother said. "We laughed and we said, 'well, the first time you do this, we'll match.'"

He raised more than $200 with two batches of brownies, his mother said.

And Evan's fundraising efforts were only just beginning. He has since elevated his goal to raising money for 100 wells, if not more, in his lifetime.

"As a child, he doesn't know any limits," his mother said.

Instead of traditional trick-or-treating at Halloween last year, he asked for donations. He also raised money at Valley Mall in Halfway and generated donations through a banquet, which attracted 119 people.

"What amazed us is just the response," his dad said of the trick-or-treating campaign. "People literally stopped what they were doing, went inside and came back with $5 or $10."

"It's very humbling as a parent to watch," Evan's mother said of her son's dedication to the cause.

"God didn't just choose me, he chose all of us," Evan said.

More information about Life Outreach International and the water well mission is available at www.lifetoday.org.

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