Saturday, April 11, 2009


By Nathan Wright
Dana Point Times

It only took Luke Spencer one look at the photos from Capo Beach Calvary’s trip to Swaziland, Africa to notice something odd was afoot.

“Luke noticed these kids had no shoes,” said Craig Whittaker, the lead pastor at Capo Beach Calvary Church. The photos included impoverished orphans from Swaziland who, in many cases, have lost both parents to AIDS.

And so the 8-year-old Capo Beach Calvary School second grader pulled out a pad of paper and took out a pen and got to work. In a two-page letter to Crocs, Inc. Spencer spoke on behalf of the impoverished children and asked for the shoe company’s help.

“There are a lot of children in a lot of places who don’t have a mom or dad,” he writes. “Our church helps orphans in Africa and I want to help them by giving them shoes they don’t have. I’m wondering if you can donate shoes for these children.”

The handwritten letter did the job, and weeks later the Spencer family got a call from Crocs with news that 225 pairs of children’s shoes would arrive via UPS. The call was big news for the Spencer family, who weren’t sure if the letter would even get a reply.

“We were elated,” said Mariela Spencer, Luke’s mom. “You can imagine that we assume that people like Crocs get all kinds of requests for donations. We were absolutely thrilled.”

The family celebrated a second time when an anonymous donor dropped off another four boxes of Crocs. In all, Spencer said the church was able to send 500 pairs of Crocs to Swaziland. “The boxes had a note that said they’d heard of a little boy collecting shoes for orphans in Africa and they wanted to match the donation,” said Mariela Spencer. “The note wasn’t signed.”

The Crocs were just a small part of an overall charity effort by Capo Beach Calvary Church, which last week shipped a large container out of Long Beach to Africa. The container was filled with food, clothing and equipment for the church’s adopted Care Point in Swaziland, according to Whittaker.

“We’re hoping the container gets there by June 9,” he said. “We’re going back on June 28 to build the equipment and to hold a Bible camp with stories and games.” The volunteers from the church will take care of a group of 220 children, many of them orphans who are all impoverished.

The church has a long history of working with orphans and children in countries facing tough times, including a 10-year relationship with an orphanage in Russia. The experiences in Russia did not prepare Whittaker for what he found in Swaziland.

“My first year in Swaziland I was absolutely blown away,” he said. “These kids literally had nothing.”

The stories were heartbreaking, including tales of young girls trading sex for a loaf of bread. In a country plagued by AIDS, the consequences of such a trade are often severe. To help, Capo Beach Calvary volunteers built a kitchen at a Care Point with propane burning stoves. The extra food sent by the church, along with the improved facilities, will allow the 220 children to eat at the Care Point every day instead of three times a week.

As Whittaker prepares for the next trip to Swaziland, he has simple instructions for those South County folks who will accompany him on the long journey halfway across the globe. “I tell them that the most important thing for these children is to be touched and to be cared for,” he said. “Most of these children are orphans and they get no physical touch at all. We tell people to bring photo albums so they can share and connect with these children.”


The carepoint that Capo Calvary sponsors is a ministry of Children's HopeChest, the organization that I traveled to Swaziland with last year. To find out how you and/or your church can be involved in eternally impacting the lives of precious children in Africa, visit the Children's HopeChest website at:


Karen Deborah said...

cool! have a very blessed Easter.

Elysa said...

Thanks, Karen. Hope y'all's is amazingly blessed as well!