While most college students have been recuperating from finals, getting a few hours in at holiday jobs and relaxing with family, Christie Heimbach, Zack Wagner and the team that makes up the charity organization 2 Seconds or Less also will be preparing for a benefit concert at the end of the month. The concert will be entirely donation-based, with all proceeds going toward upcoming missionary trips - the soonest being a trip to Zimbabwe planned for the summer.
The nonprofit organization was co-founded in 2011 by Heimbach and best friend Kelsey Hare and focuses on using sustainable hunger solutions to combat malnutrition in impoverished countries. Its name comes from a most jarring statistic: about every two seconds, someone in the world dies of malnutrition.
"2 Seconds or Less (2SOL) is based on a 100 percent donation model, meaning that all individual donations go toward projects in Africa. Personal fundraisers are done for all administrative costs, including flights," explained Heimbach. The group hopes to raise $50,000 by summer.
2 Seconds or Less (2SOL) co-founders Christie Heimbach, right, and Kelsey Hare, are seen in Zimbabwe.
So far, 2SOL has made two trips to Zimbabwe, currently one of the poorest nations in the world. Only Heimbach and Hare went on the first trip, which provided the girls with the inspiration and impetus to organize their efforts and continue helping.
"Zimbabwe is among the poorest countries of the world, but often gets overlooked because it houses one of the wonders of the world, Victoria Falls. It is a country where one in every five children are orphans and one in every four people are HIV positive," Heimbach said.
Last summer, a small team from 2SOL went back to Zimbabwe and worked with the Mapfeni Primary School, many of whose 1,200 students are orphans or affected by the HIV virus. 2SOL built and planted a large-scale nutrition garden to provide the school with a feeding program. They worked alongside the students to teach them methods of food production, and how to live sustainable and healthy lives. A borehole well was also dug to provide clean water and an irrigation system for the garden.
"The mission thrived on the idea that even after the group left the country, the people of the village could continue the work and would not be dependent on aid organizations," Heimbach said. Combined with giving communities the means to further their education (what 2SOL considers the only answer to ending the cycle of poverty), this autonomy is the "sustainable" in "sustainable hunger solutions." Teach a man to fish, so to speak.
Wagner has known and worked with Christie since they were 14 years old. The two got to know each other by working together in theatre productions - some in high school, as well as at Williamsport's Community Theatre League, and with ACT UP!. Wagner, an area native, and junior studying theatre at NYU, said that being away from Williamsport has shown him something special about his hometown.
"Not only have I seen how the community has influenced growth on the stage, but I have seen how some of my best friends have grown into the type people who use their talents and passions to benefit others." Some of those friends will be performing at Saturday's benefit concert: Erika Allegrucci, Gabe King, Krissy Kline, Brigid Lapp, Clayton Lose, Ryli Meyer and Zane Wagner, all accompanied by pianist Brandon Route. Even Heimbach and Wagner will be performing. In fact, all nine team members of 2SOL will be in attendance, coming from as far away as California.
Wagner said that attendees can expect to hear Christmas classics, along with some of the group's other favorite songs.
"There's a little something for everyone: pop, classical, folk and even a little rock 'n' roll." The concert will be held at 7 p.m. Saturday at Lycoming Valley Baptist Church in Montoursville, off of Lycoming Mall Road. Daycare will be provided and a reception will be held after the concert. To learn more about 2 Seconds or Less, visit www.2secondsorless.org or at www.facebook.com/2secondsorless. For information about the concert, how to get involved with the organization, or to contact one of the co-founders about doing speaking engagements, e-mail Heimbach at Christie@2secondsor less.org.