WESTPORT, Conn. – For most high school kids, a trip to Greece means a visit to the Acropolis and perhaps a swim in the Mediterranean. This isn't the case for Staples High senior Kristina Wasserman and her sister, Lauren.
Instead, the two Wasserman girls and their parents spend their time in Greece by helping out an all-girls orphanage just outside of Athens.
"My mother is Greek, so we would go all the time," Kristina said. "We wanted to give back and at first we would bring stuff to the orphanages – toys and other things."
The first time the Wasserman family visited, the all-girls orphanage had about 25 residents. All of the girls found themselves in the home because their parents had been deemed unfit due to abuse or several other reasons, she said.
Since then, the number of girls has grown to 50 or more as Greece continues to take in refugees, Kristina said. Funding, however, has become a problem at the orphanage.
Kristina and her family decided to act, forming Project HOO, short for Help Our Orphans, a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit designed to provide every girl in the orphanage with the food, clothing, education, and services she needs.
"We fell in love with the girls there," Kristina said. "It got to the point where just bringing toys and being with them isn’t enough. We wanted to take the next step."
The Wassermans fell in love with the girls and became so committed to helping that they are currently trying to clear legal hurdles to adopt one of the girls, who is named Athina.
Kristina is off to the College of Charleston next year. But her father, Larry; mother, Georgia; and sister, Lauren, will continue to operate as the guardian angels for orphans on the other side of the Atlantic.