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PEOPLE & VOICES - French Valley Church helps Mexican orphanage

Pastor Dave Reynolds made it his goal to be known as the leader of a congregation that "gives itself away" to those in need.

He is achieving the goal with the Fill the Fridges Ministry.

Reynolds, along with his church members, give time and money to Children's Home Orphanage, located in a low-income area 10 miles south of Ensenada, Mexico.

Reynolds is senior pastor at Chorus Church in French Valley. With volunteer church members, he helps provide daily meals for children in the orphanage. They also help build homes for needy children and their families who live nearby.

Though his church, at 6 years old, is young, his desire to help others began almost as soon as he opened the doors.

Reynolds saw an opportunity to bring much-needed help to others when the Children's Home Orphanage was brought to his attention by church members and missionary leaders Josh and Tiffany Axene.

Assisting the orphanage was intended as a youth mission, but soon more church members lent a hand.

"Every year for the past few years, we have gone down with a group of 20 to 30 students and adults to build homes for very needy families in the local village there and serve the kids at the home," Reynolds said.

With the Fill the Fridges Ministry, Chorus Church donates about $25,000 each year to the orphanage to provide 100 to 150 meals per day to the children, and to severely disadvantaged families living nearby. The families otherwise would be forced to split apart because of their inability to feed and provide for their children. The money also goes to build homes for those families.

"The families live under tarps," Reynolds said. "We leave them with a house."

One-thousand dollars can feed the children in the orphanage and the nearby families for a month. Fill the Fridges' goal is to raise enough money to keep the freezers fully stocked in winter.

The church hopes to achieve this goal with a Dec. 17 fundraising concert it will host starring guitarist Steve Bell.

Admission is $15 per person, which will go to Fill the Fridges.

Reynolds said church members aren't the only ones gaining from the experience.

"Honestly, these people teach us more than we teach them," he said. "They are helping us learn to be grateful and learn what it means to be a true church."

Donations for Fill the Fridges can be mailed to Chorus Church, 29930 Hunter Road, Suite 105, Murrieta, CA 92563. "Children's Home" should be written on each check.

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