Tim's Take: From Russia to Hilton Head

By Tim Guidera - bio | email

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Why would anyone want to trick a bunch of kids? Maybe to change their lives or to give them a new life.

"There'll be new sights, new sounds, new food, new everything,'' Christine Carr said of the experiences coming for a group of youngsters who have traveled to the area. "Everything is new to them, so it's very exciting.''

Carr organized the little deception that started in Bluffton and continued to the Savannah-Hilton Head Airport Wednesday night and the massive act of compassion that will play out here over the next three weeks.

Carr's Operation 127 ministry at Hilton Head Presbyterian Church arranged to bring 10 Russian orphans to the Lowcountry for an array of activities American kids take for granted but these ones could never imagine, let alone experience.

"These children have never really been out of the place where they live, so they have not been exposed to anything,'' said Carr, whose plan is about to change that. "We have everything from pool parties to beach parties to a Savannah Sand Gnats game. We have tennis lessons, we have horseback riding, we have just an amazing amount of things for them to do while they're here.''

And they hope, a life changing surprise for every one of these kids.

If they thought their first plane ride and the reception they received in America was a thrill, just wait until they find out why so many people welcomed them Wednesday night. And the real reason they're here.

The orphans think this is just a cultural exchange, but Operation 127 has already placed five of these kids with local families and the goal is to have all 10 adopted by the end of their stay.

"I think that is definitely going to happen before they leave,'' said Carr, who organized the visit through International Guardian Angels Outreach, an international adoption agency in Dallas.

The kids will be returning to Russia at the end of their three week trip. Russia requires adoptive parents to make two trips to the country to get to know their prospective children. This visit will count as one of those trips.

Adoptive parents will still have to make a second trip to Russia to finalize the adoptions before taking custody of the children.

Carr became aware of the 750,000 children orphaned in Russia and the dire conditions they live in when she adopted two young girls from Russia two years ago. Now several of her Hilton Head neighbors are joining her mission to help those kids.

"When you see a child like this, I just see the future,'' added Tonya Wood, who is adopting one of the children into her family. "And I see the potential and I just want to grab them all and put my arms around them.''

The kids already started to feel a community's embrace last night as they headed to Hilton Head and possibly a life better than they ever thought it could be.

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