Robert Diorio is heading to South Africa to watch the World Cup, but he's also helping out a village there. The third-grader at Kings Highway Elementary is traveling with his family and will visit Welverdiend Village to distribute items donated by Westport residents.
Diorio's mother, Lyn Hogan, helped arrange the trip for her family, including husband Steve and daughter Anna, 4. She hooked up with an organization called Pack For A Purpose, which collects items that village residents can use. At Saturday's World Cup Day held by the Westport Soccer Association Hogan collected soccer balls, pens and pencils, athletic socks and calculators. "The donations have been fabulous,'' Hogan says. "We have a lot more than we were expecting. We're just really impressed by the support of the Westport community and the soccer community."
Welverdiend is a rural village outside Kruger Park where the residents live in poverty and many of the town's children are orphans as a result of the AIDS epidemic.
The family plans to leave Saturday and will pack some of the donations in their luggage. The rest will have to be shipped. Rob has also worked to raise money for the village and made a presentation to students at his school about how they can help.
"It will be really helpful for them,'' Rob says of the donations from Westport. "It would be nice to give them some things to play soccer with. I hope it helps give them more free time to play." Besides visiting the World Cup games, Rob is excited to see how children live in another part of the world. "I want to see the city and see how it's operated and how they do things,'' the boy says. "I think living there is hard and they have to do a lot of work."
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.