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KISS star partners with Henrico organization

A&E show to highlight Simmons' trip to Zambia with ChildFund International
Gene Simmons poses with a number of students during his recent trip to Zambia with ChildFund International.
Gene Simmons, legendary lead singer of the band KISS, was on television June 25, but not in his usual rock-star role. His show, Gene Simmons Family Jewels, featured his recent trip to Zambia, where he met up with several children he sponsors through Henrico-based ChildFund International.

The experience was originally a surprise to Simmons, planned by his new wife, Shannon Tweed, for the couple’s honeymoon.

“[Shannon] decided she wanted to go to Africa, and that’s where this brainchild of hers started,” said Cynthia Price, ChildFund’s director of communications. Price worked with the show’s production company to coordinate the trip and accompanied the couple to Zambia.

Simmons sponsors more than 140 children, Price said.

“Gene came to ChildFund the way so many people do,” she said. “He was watching TV, saw the commercial, and he was moved by it, so he sponsored his first child, and then many more.”

Price hasn’t seen the episode but hopes it will portray the trip well. The trip began with Simmons being introduced to one of his sponsored children named Edward. Edward then walked Simmons around the area, showing Simmons the long distances from his water source to the road going to his school.

“Gene was overwhelmed by it,” Price said, “moved to tears actually.”

During the trip, the couple visited three different schools, where he met several of his other sponsor children. Simmons and Tweed were both impacted significantly by the poverty they saw.

“I will waste less, spend less and appreciate more,” Tweed said.

The episode aired on A&E.

“It’s a great way for people who might be considering sponsorship to see how real it is and the impact that a person can have overseas,” Price said. “And obviously, we hope it moves more people to sponsor.”

ChildFund International is headquartered in Henrico's Near West End. The organization was founded in 1938 by a former minister in Richmond to help children in China who were orphaned by the war, Price said.

Sponsoring a child costs $28 a month, and ChildFund works with local partners within the affected areas because “they understand the culture and environment and issues and opportunities,” Price said.

“You as a potential sponsor can pick which country you want, and we have 31 countries,” she said. “You can pick the age of the child, the sex of the child and then the money that you give each month goes to the child’s family and to the community.”
Community

Lions Club donates backpacks to elementary school

The Richmond West Breakfast Lions Club (based in western Henrico) recently donated 59 backpacks to the Westover Hills Elementary School on Jahnke Road.

Above, club members display some of the backpacks prior to their distribution. > Read more.

Glen Allen student to perform at Carnegie Hall

Thanks to a first-place win in The American Protege International Vocal Competition 2014, Glen Allen High School student Matija Tomas will travel to New York City to perform at Carnegie Hall in December.

At the first-place winners recital in Weill Hall, Matija will perform Giacomo Puccini’s opera aria, “Chi il bel sogna di doretta.” She will perform with other vocalists from around the world and have the opportunity to win other awards and scholarships.

Locally, Thomas has performed with Richmond’s renowned Glorious Christmas Nights, Christian Youth Theatre, and WEAG’s Urban Gospel Youth Choir. > Read more.

Gayton Baptist Church dedicates new outreach center


The John Rolfe YMCA and Gayton Baptist Church have partnered in an effort to bring greater health and wellness opportunities to the community.

Through this partnership, the John Rolfe Y will run Youth Winter Sports programs, including basketball and indoor soccer, in Gayton’s newly renovated $5.5 million outreach center that features a new gymnasium, youth and teen space, social space with café, meeting space and full service commercial kitchen. > Read more.

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Entertainment

New Henrico biscuit shop thrives with grandmother’s recipe

Tix Laxton rises at 4:30 a.m. every day for a biscuit. But he’s not rushing out to any restaurant to get his favorite Southern comfort food; he’s baking his own from scratch and serving them up from his bakery on Lakeside Avenue.

Laxton opened Early Bird Biscuit Co. & Bakery in early July and since then biscuits have been flying out of there.

The self-taught baker draws hungry crowds in with a biscuit of the day like the Old Bay Cheddar, but the buttermilk biscuits are the staple.

“On a Saturday I generally make about 400 biscuits with my two hands,” Laxton said. “I’m constantly making biscuits all day long.” > Read more.

Restaurant watch

Find out how your favorite dining establishments fared during their most recent inspections by the Virginia Department of Health. > Read more.

CAT Theatre announces cast of Sherlock Holmes play

CAT Theatre’s 51st season will open with Sherlock Holmes: The Final Adventure, which will run from Oct. 24-Nov. 8. Adapted by Steven Dietz, it is based on the original 1899 play by William Gillette and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and was the winner of the 2007 Edgar Award for Best Mystery Play.

The plot follows what seems to be the end of the career of the world’s greatest detective as he is confronted with a case far too tempting to ignore. When the King of Bohemia faces blackmail by famed opera singer Irene Adler, Holmes and his faithful companion, Dr. Watson, find themselves falling into the trap of evil genius Professor Moriarty. As Holmes says, “The game is afoot Watson, and it is a dangerous one!” > Read more.

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The Henrico County Public Schools Special Education Advisory Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. at Brookland Middle School. Interested parents are invited to attend. The SEAC works with the school… Full text

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