West Virginia University students Angela Henderson and Kelly Trimble recently traveled to Russia on a mission trip to visit hundreds of children living in orphanages.

Henderson and Trimble are double majors in the Russian Studies and Slavic and Eastern European Studies programs. The pair raised money and prepared several gifts to celebrate the Russian Orthodox Christmas with children growing up in unhappy circumstances there.

I knew that this trip would be a great way to make a contribution in a place that I really want to understand better,said Trimble, a junior from Williamson, W.Va.I’ll never forget the experiences I had with the kids.

As part of the United Methodist Volunteers in Mission outreach group, the pair traveled to Moscow and to visit with more than 500 children in seven different orphanages in and around the city.

UMVIM is a nationwide organization dedicated to providing opportunities for service in places of need around the world. Most of the orphans Henderson and Trimble visited are mentally or physically ill and between the ages of 5 and 18.

Henderson and Trimble also filled gift bags with candy, toys and clothes for the late-December trip.

They celebrated New Year and the Orthodox Churchs Christmas this past Jan. 6. They played with the youngsters, went to puppet shows and hosted dances, parties and sled-riding outings.

In Moscow, there are so many orphanages that many do not have names, instead they just number them,said Henderson, a senior from Fairmont, W.Va., and president of WVU s Russian Club.

The citys orphanages, she explained, are funded by the Department of Social Health and the Department of Education

Visiting the orphanages made a big impact on my life,Henderson said.I just wanted to help the children in anyway that I could, and it was great to see their expressions when we played with them and gave them gifts.

She was introduced to the program through her hometown church, Mount Zion United Methodist, where the congregation held yard sales and solicited donations from the community to help raise money for the trip.

A $1,000 donation from the campus Russian Club was used to fill the gift bags, and money that was left over paid for a day at a Russian circus for nearly 500 children.

When they werent volunteering in orphanages, Henderson and Trimble polished their fluency in Russian and took in the culture, which included a night at the ballet and sight-seeing sojourns to many famous landmarks.

WVU s Russian, Slavic and Eastern European programs are in the Department of Foreign Languages, which operates in the Eberly College of Arts and Sciences.

For more information, contact Dr. Lisa DiBartolomeo, Clinical Assistant Professor and Russian Program Coordinator, at (304)293-5121 or Lisa.DiBartolomeo@mail.wvu.edu .