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Zimbabwe run in 14th year, thanks to energetic resident


Photo By: Bruce Barton/Town Crier
Photo Bruce Barton/Town Crier

Ellen Clark of Los Altos is the organizer of the Run for Zimbabwe Orphans & Fair, scheduled March 24 this year.

Ellen Clark radiates positive energy and enthusiasm for helping children locally and half a world away.

The Los Altos resident and retired physical education teacher does just that with her longstanding pet project, the Run for Zimbabwe Orphans & Fair. In its 14th year, the event is scheduled noon to 4 p.m. March 24 at St. Joseph Catholic School, 1120 Miramonte Ave., Mountain View.

The “run” component features races for participants of all ages, while the “fair” includes food, live music and art and cultural exhibits.

Proceeds benefit the Makumbi Children’s Home in Zimbabwe for orphaned children. Clark founded her own nonprofit group, the Sustainable Living Foundation, to support the event and Gardens for Paraguay, which sustains poor neighborhoods in that country.

“We’ve made our mission a lot more concrete this year,” Clark said, wearing this year’s official event T-shirt that celebrates the zebra. “Our mission is to inspire kids to keep fit, create beautiful art and help others. It’s a kid-friendly mission statement.”

Clark’s event helps children locally and globally. Her passion for Zimbabwe, in particular, was inspired by her son Will’s experience there as a member of the Peace Corps. Will reported home about the rampant poverty, disease and huge number of orphaned children, prompting his mother to take action.

Now every member of the Clark family is involved in the foundation. Ellen serves as president, Will is vice president, husband Bill is chief financial officer, daughter Kristen is cultural director, daughter Teresa is secretary and son-in-law Dave Ruminski is technology director.

Clark involves like-minded, philanthropic students as ambassadors for the day. This year’s ambassadors include Megha Agarwal, a junior at St. Francis High School; Jade Perry and Carol Deng, Los Altos High seniors; Tenashe Choto, a sophomore at Mountain View High; and Jose Martinez of Foothill College.

Agarwal oversees the promotions. She said proceeds help Makumbi children with basic necessities like food, clothes and educational material.

“I’m proud to announce that last year, we brought in a grand total of $32,700, and we hope to match and exceed that amount this year,” Agarwal said.

This year’s event includes another shoe drive – 2,000 pairs were collected last year – and Clark is adding a book drive.

“We’re collecting the best books (donated) – up to 40 pounds,” Clark said of the drive, the proceeds of which will be shipped to the orphanage.

A little money goes a long way to help the orphans, Clark said.

“You only need $50 to clothe, feed and house one child for one year,” she said.

“The Sustainable Living Foundation wants to make it easy to get involved, despite age, economic status or cultural background,” Agarwal wrote in a promotional flier. “Whether you’re interested in donating outgrown shoes, volunteering at a booth, making a simple donation or just running, there’s something for everyone.”

For more information or to register, volunteer or contribute, visit www.zimbabweparaguay.net.

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