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Helena church organizes ping pong event for Afghan refugees

Posted at 3:41 PM, Aug 03, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-03 21:13:46-04

HELENA — Saturday, Plymouth Congregational Church and its Social Justice Committee are hosting a free ping pong party event, along with 18 other co-sponsors of the Afghan Refugee welcoming party to raise funds needed by Afghan refugee families and children living in Helena.

“So we're raising money primarily for the Afghan children, because we have a family of six with five children starting school, and another family of four arriving next week, and all three of those children will start school. So they need to have school clothing, coats, boots, you know, just school supplies. So the money is primarily for the Afghan children. And they're wonderful children, and they'll be here,” Valerie Hellerman, Executive Director of Hands on Global, said.

The event begins at 9 a.m. and runs through 1 p.m. Donations will be accepted and no previous ping pong experience is necessary. Local celebrities and pro table tennis players will be participating in the event as well as helping  with instruction. 

“People can expect that they'll have plenty of opportunity to play with state champions, and other friends of theirs, who they bring with them, as well as play some trick games,” Frank Kromkowski, Plymouth Congregational Church Justice Committee member, said.

Ping pong party goers can also expect local music and Bolani, an Afghan stuffed flatbread. Although this event is free, Kromkowski is hoping to see a lot of people make a contribution, which will be tax deductible to the Plymouth Church.

“Plymouth Church has donated 12 kites to the Afghan children, and kite flying in Afghanistan is a big deal. So I'm really looking forward to seeing the kids fly some kites out in the field, I think they're going to just be thrilled,” Hellerman said.

For those looking to join in on the ping pong action, Kromkowski, former city champion, has some advice.  

“I'm 78. And I've been playing table tennis for 70 years. And so this secret is to practice a lot. But you also have to learn that just poking at the ball is for ping pong players. But if you want to learn strokes, and so forth, you need a person who will teach you how to do beautiful strokes, to hit beautiful strokes and to use your footwork to get in position. Those are really key. So we say you win table tennis games with your feet, which is a strange thing to say except that that's the way the greatest players get into position to get all the shots back and to make kill shots when they need to get them,” he said. 

Hosts/Co-Sponsors:

  •  Plymouth Congregational Church and its Social Justice Committee,
  • Hands on Global and its Helena Afghan Refugee Resettlement Team, HARRT

Partners/Co-Sponsors:

  •   Buzz Boutique
  •   Career Training Institute (CTI)
  •   Episcopal Diocese of Montana
  •   GoodFood World
  •   Good Samaritan Ministries
  •  Helena DSA and its Helena Solidarity Network
  •  Helena Progressive Action Network
  •  Helena Service for Peace and Justice/SERPAJ
  •  Helena Table Tennis Club
  •  Helena YWCA
  •  Montana Book Company
  •  Montana Jewish Project
  •  Our Redeemer's Lutheran Church
  •  Shop University for ESL(English as aSecond Language Instruction) in Helena
  •  St. Peter's Episcopal Cathedral
  • Sunflower Bakery
  • Van's Thriftway Food Store