FAIRFAX, Va. - In this time of a rainy-day economy, 25:40's 6th Annual Walk for the Kids started and ended before we were hit with a drenching rain on Sept. 26.

Maybe it is because of the rainy-day economy that we had a drop in numbers this year. But we did have an enthusiastic 41 participants. On top of that, the entire George Mason University Women s Lacrosse team showed up to help! So really, we had 70 participants!

We re still collecting money and donations, so the final count is not in. But so far we ve raised about $3,000 for 25:40 projects. Thrivent Financial for Lutherans will offer a 1/3 matching grant.

The money for the walk will be used by 25:40 to support 25:40's  Project 1504,  a new project in the Ngqeleni District of the Eastern Cape of South Africa aimed at supporting the 1,504 orphaned and vulnerable children recently identified. These children have lost one or both parents to AIDS; some are completely on their own. They suffer from constant hunger for lack of income to the household. Some face abuse by other caregivers and a general prejudice within the community against them.

In the short term, 25:40 is hiring a local Xhosa woman to coordinate the different Project 1504 tasks in the area. The first priority will be to mobilize the community health workers to help these children access government grants due to them for being orphaned or ill. This is a steady monthly income that will help put food on the table. This effort also will engage the government social workers in the lives of these children and help them with other issues they may be having.

Thanks to the participants of 25:40's 6th Annual Walk for the Kids   and all those who supported their walk   25:40 is on stronger footing to launch this project to help  the least of these  in a very small pocket of South Africa. But this project will help 1,504 children, one child at a time.