300 in Serbian Orphanage
to get visit from U.S. Santas

San Ramon Valley Times - Sunday, December 17, 2000
by Linda Davis


Marcia Davis, left, of Walnut Creek and Vula Rushdoony and Sarah Switek, both of Danville, pack for their trip to Yugoslavia
DANVILLE - Nearly 300 children and young adults, some of them developmentally disabled, will have a Christmas this year thanks to Vula and Haig Rushdoony, who have been helping the poor in the Balkans for eight years through their Macedonian Outreach program.

In only a month, Vula and numerous volunteers have collected more than 1,000 pounds of shoes, toys, dolls and warm winter garb they will bring to people ages 3 to 25 who live in a Serbian orphanage in Belgrade, Yugoslavia.

The call to action came from Ida Jovanovic, a heart specialist in Belgrade who knew of the Rushdoonys from their work bringing needy children to the United States for heart surgery.

"At first she said 380 children, and I panicked," Vula Rushdoony said. The Rushdoonys ship thousands of pounds of used clothing, medicine and supplies to Balkan refugees year-round, but the gifts for the children had to be new.

So the Rushdoonys put out the word quickly through newsletters, bulletins and word of mouth. Teddy bears, hand-knit sweaters and caps, pajamas, shoes and other articles soon began to arrive from local residents as well as out-of-state contributors.

One woman sent hundreds of pairs of socks and dozens of pairs of shoes. Two San Ramon Valley High students contacted the couple last week saying they were going shopping for the orphans and would be back to drop off their purchases. A group of women called Knitters of Joy in Missouri shipped boxes of scarves and sweaters. Cash donations came in as well.

"We have a wide network, thank goodness," Vula Rushdoony said.

She and two of the agency's most ardent volunteers, Marcia Davis of Walnut Creek and Sarah Switek of Danville, will depart Jan. 3 for Belgrade.

The next day, the three will celebrate a reunion with 13 of the 15 Balkan children they helped bring to America for heart surgeries in past years. Arrangements are being made for the children to meet at a Belgrade hospital.

Jan. 6, volunteers will stage a huge Christmas party at the orphanage, giving out the goods they collected and also some sweets. Haig Rushdoony said Eastern Orthodox Christians celebrate Christmas on Jan. 6.

The Rushdoonys are still in need of some items for the orphans. They could use new boys' or girls' thermal underwear in any size, warm mittens or gloves, plus cash donations to cover the cost of transporting nine large duffel bags of goods at $130 each.

This year, the Rushdoonys traveled from May through September helping refugees in Romania, Yugoslavia, Greece and the former Yugoslavian republic of Macedonia. In each country, they distributed thousands of pounds of food, medical supplies and clothing.

The couple has operated the non-profit Christian-based Macedonian Outreach program since 1992 from their home, a mission they began after retirement.

This year, The Macedonian Outreach has raised $132,000 in cash donations, with thousands more in donations of goods and clothing and shipping supplies. Last year, $160,000 was raised.

For information about donating, call the outreach at 925-820-4107, visit its website at: www.MacedonianOutreach.org or e-mail macout@acts.org