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April 3, 2012

Eastside sponsors zoo trip for Henryville children

JEFFERSONVILLE — On Saturday, dozens of Southern Indiana parents and children spent the day at the Louisville Zoo, something that surely could be considered normal.

For children, a normal spring Saturday afternoon in Southern Indiana should be spent playing in the backyard, riding bikes in the streets or playing catch on the ball diamond. But for many Henryville children life has been anything but normal. Backyards are still riddled with rubbish and the remains of nature’s recent vicious attack. Streets are clogged with machinery and workers. Bicycles are few and far between. Ball diamonds — and schools — are now miles away.  

Parents have begun to see life reassembled. Calls to the insurance representatives have been made. Paperwork to the government is filled out. Contracts for repair and replacement are signed. The adult begins to discover that life will continue; but the child is often left still feeling that nothing will ever return to normal.

The healing of the children was a burden that was on the heart of Kolina Burgin, whose home had cosmetic damage from the recent tornadoes and whose car was left a mangled mess. Kolina’s passion for the victims of natural disasters runs deep. A member of Eastside Christian Church in Jeffersonville, Kolina and her husband Michael were instrumental in the church’s efforts to help tornado victims in Missouri last year. They traveled with a church group to Joplin to work for a week, delivering supplies and helping rebuild.

But this time Kolina felt especially sensitive to the needs of children, as witnessed in the lives of her daughter, Kailey, and son, Austin. She sensed that it was time for the children to get away for a bit, to leave the cares and turmoil, and experience the wonders and joys of just being a kid again. What better place to do that than at the zoo? And what if it were something that could be made available to any family with children that had been upended by the tornadoes?

Kolina made a call to David Parkerson, Outreach Minister at Eastside Christian. She outlined her dream and asked if the church could help make it a reality. The idea for ministry rang true for Parkerson.

 “This is exactly the kind of service that is a part of who Eastside is. I love it when members of the church see a need and are passionate enough to see it done in the name of Christ,” he said.  “It’s one thing to say ‘I want to feed the hungry.’  It’s another thing to actually be willing to make the sandwich.”

Sandwiches were the next hurdle to leap. Kolina did not want the trip to the zoo to cost the folks anything and lunch would certainly need to be provided. David made a call to the New Albany location of Mark’s Feed Store. David Schultz, manager of the store, had helped Eastside already on several relief efforts for the victims, collecting money and donating tips.  Mark’s provided the lunches free of charge.

“This entire experience has been humbling for all of us,” Schultz said. “We grumble when we get stuck in a traffic jam and we gripe when we pay $4 a gallon for gasoline. We don’t even come close to realizing real hardship. This is close to our heart. We jumped at the opportunity to help.”

So on Saturday, March 31, at the Louisville Zoo, when some saw cloudy skies, several children from Henryville saw nothing but sunshine. And a polar bear. Most importantly, they saw a glimpse of normal thanks to the passionate heart and determined spirit of a lady who wants to make a difference.

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