The orphaned children of South Sudan are one step closer to hope after the Art for the Heart of Africa auction. It was held on Friday, Oct. 23 at the Vineyard Church in South Bend. The benefit raised over $18,000 to support the New Generation Children’s Home in Yei, South Sudan. The facility is used to care for and educate children orphaned by war, poverty and famine. Recent Bethel graduate Michelle Ferris collaborated with the Vineyard Church to put on the event. It featured hors d’oeuvres, live music and a silent and live art auction. Artwork of more than 40 local and regional artists was featured at this auction. Some of the children from South Sudan also entered 71 pieces of work to be sold in the auction. The auction was only expected to raise about $5,000 to put on a new roof for the children’s home. But that amount was quickly surpassed and the money kept coming. Ferris believes that this is only something God can make happen. “If that doesn’t prove God was in it, I can’t explain it any other way,” said Ferris. Five members of the Bethel community were also involved. Two Bethel alums Brittany (Fried) Baughman, Ferris and Hannah (Lambdin) Grudda and two art professors Suzanne Mauro and Chris Stackowicz pulled together $1,350 for their art. Tim Hindes, the auctioneer for the event, was very pleased with the event. He said it was one of the best set-up auctions he had been to recently, and that some of the art he thought deserved to be on the national scene. Senior Katie Cunningham was pleased with the event as well. “I loved it,” said Cunningham. “I helped one of my friends keep track of her bids during the silent auction. She came home with several beautiful pieces of art, including a hand made scarf and a shawl.” The success of this event has the church and community members planning another event for next year. Ferris is very satisfied with the outcome.