by Deb Seminary

Need a little mid-winter rejuvenation? Put on your dancing shoes and head to the Dream Makers Ball, Saturday, February 12th at the Seven Seas.

Organizers have planned a night to remember, including a silent and live auction. “This is the first time we have had a live auction,” said Charisse Fandrich, Resource Development Director for The GOD’S CHILD Project. “I think it will be very exciting.”

Another event that will add a little ‘kick’ to the festivities is a horse race. “We have stick horses that will be painted and decorated by local artists,” explained Fandrich. “An individual, or a table, can bid on a horse for the opportunity to race it.”

The Joe Friday Band will provide the music to cap off the unforgettable evening.

The event will benefit The GOD’S CHILD Project and its many areas of outreach. Many people may not realize all of the things The GOD’S CHILD Project does. “We are so busy with what we are doing, we don’t have the chance to tell people,” said Patrick Atkinson, GOD’S CHILD founder. “There is the misperception that The GOD’S CHILD Project is Patrick Atkinson and 400 kids in Guatemala. We haven’t been that for 17 years.”

With a Bismarck-based staff of five people, a Minneapolis-based staff of three, about 80 in Guatemala, and hundreds of volunteers, The GOD’S CHILD Project aids over 5000 orphan and abandoned children in Africa, India, El Salvador, Guatemala and the United States. They also help 8700 widowed and abandoned mothers and their dependents in Central America.

“The GOD’S CHILD Project is not just a charity; it has become a world-wide social movement that started in Bismarck, North Dakota,” explained Atkinson. “We have support groups and community-based groups and volunteers who are very active on behalf of The GOD’S CHILD Projects’ goals and missions which are to stop the victimization, to care for our women and children, prevent and intervene in situations of domestic violence and to care and feed and educate the world’s poorest boys and girls.”

A sub-program of The GOD’s CHILD that is gaining publicity because of its successes is the Institute of Trafficked, Exploited and Missing Persons (ITEMP). “We run Central America’s largest non-govermental anti-human trafficking program,” said Atkinson. “I am in contact with the authorities in Paraguay, where a known human trafficker has just been arrested by Interpol, largely because of ITEMP. People don’t realize we are doing all of this.”

An example of human trafficking is when kids are playing in front of their homes, say in Mexico, and they are grabbed, bound, gagged and driven across the border illegally and put up for auction in Texas. Perverts and pedophiles buy them. It is a growing phenomenon, especially because of the internet.

The GOD’S CHILD Project will be celebrating 20 years of life in April of 2011. “This was something that was going to last two to three years, my little one man effort,” said Atkinson. “Then I was going to wrap it up and come home.”

Thousands of children are grateful that didn’t happen. “The greatest contribution of The GOD’S CHILD Project is that it has taught North Dakota and the Upper Midwest about Third World poverty,” said Mikey Hoeven, former First Lady of North Dakota. “And even more important, it has given us the chance to be part of the solution.”

It is important to remember, The GOD’S CHILD Project is not just about Guatemala, it is an important local organization that hundreds of families depend on. “The GOD’S CHILD Project is one of the largest direct-service providers in this area,” said Atkinson. “I can only think of three or four individual charities that provide more local services than GOD’S CHILD. We collect thousands of pounds of clothing, computers and school supplies every year.”

Take advantage of this opportunity to be a part of the solution and have a little fun at the same time. The Dream Makers Ball promises to be a night to remember.

Sponsorship opportunities are available, or individual tickets are $50 each. Contact The GOD’S CHILD Project office at 255.7956 or stop at their office, 721 Memorial Highway in Bismarck. For more information on the God’s Child Project, visit www.GODSCHILD.org.