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10 Rising Hearts: Student starts ministry for orphans in Ghana

A teen from Loudon started a charity that continues to grow.

Sydney O'Leary described what inspired her.

"I asked God every day, can I have a little sister? Can I have a little sister? And then when I was 10 we started the adoption process," she said.

That adoption process added siblings from Ghana to their family in Loudon.

"I have a 17 year old brother. And then two 14 year old brothers. An 11 year old brother. An 11 year old sister. And then an 8 year old brother,"

Sydney said. "It's amazing. The minute they came home they just fit right into the family. We are all home schooled so we are really close and we do everything together."

Sydney O'Leary remembers when she saw a picture of her soon-to-be little sister in Ghana.

"The orphanage director said yeah we found these kids and the little girl had not eaten in days and now she has this tiny piece of bread. I guess looking at that picture I realized how much food I had and I have everything I could have everything I could ever want when my little sister any food. So that kind of broke my heart," she said.

It gave Sydney a heart for helping orphans so she founded Feeding the Orphans.

"In the beginning our main focus was just food, education, and water to the kids that we sponsored," she said.

She's now been to Ghana 13 times. It brings her joy.

"We have this strong connection with all the kids. We've gotten to see them grow up over the years and we go back and it's like we're walking into our second home," she said.

When she started Feeding the Orphans she thought it might last a couple years but God had other plans. Now the organization drills wells for clean water in villages there along with building churches. She also started a Feeding the Orphans Christmas Catalog for people to make donations for specific needs.

Sydney looks forward to building on what she started.

"I want to go to school to be a nurse or either communications so I can do writing for this ministry or I can be a travel nurse and take that to Ghana but I definitely want to keep the connection with the Ghana kids," she said.

She's a teen connected to a community across the world.

Do you know a student who reaches beyond their schools and families to help make our community better? To nominate a student, please send an email describing them and their community service to 10Hearts@wbir.com.

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