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Hudson Pen Pal Letters on Display at Syrian Refugee Concert

Syrian children living in a refugee camp at Ketermaya, Lebanon are in contact with Pen Pals in Hudson. Here a letter from a middle-school student includes drawings of some national landmarks. The First Presbyterian Church in Hudson is raising funds to help supply these refugees with critical supplies. Donations can be made on-line at or by sending a check to the Church at P.O. Box 763, Hudson, NY 12534.
February 15, 2018 11:34 am

HUDSON — “Dear Pen Pal. . . My favorite part of fifth grade is being with my friends and being with a very kind teacher. What do you like to learn about? My favorite thing to eat is rice and beans. What kind of food do you like?” These are just some of the thoughts shared in letters generated at Hudson’s Middle School and received by refugees in Lebanon.

And now they will be shared at a benefit concert in Beirut in support of all Syrian refugee children.

The idea of Danette Gorman, a member of Hudson’s First Presbyterian Church and a person dedicated to ending the plight of these families, the concert features internationally renowned clarinetist and composer, Kinan Azmeh. “I first heard of him when he led a music workshop for Syrian refugee children in New Jersey last summer,” Gorman explained. “I immediately reached out to him in hopes that something could be done to help the Ketermaya camp refugees.”

The result is a concert this coming Thursday, February 15th at Lebanese American University in Beirut. Produced by Imagine Workshop and Concert Series, the event will open with a total of 250 Syrian refugee children from several camps in Lebanon – all singing a song about PEACE (the title of the concert). In addition, the Hudson-Ketermaya Connection pen pal letters will be displayed at the entrance of this event along with letters from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade classes at the Hudson schools.

“Imagine the seeds of hope planted in the minds of all the children who will participate,” Gorman says. “This is an opportunity not only to nurture those young souls, but also to attract awareness from organizations who can facilitate quality of life and quality of education for these refugees.” Gorman is seeking funding to enable the trip of the Ketermaya children to this Beirut concert (most of whom will never have seen a big city – or a musical concert on a stage), as well as funds for the camp itself. “There is a critical need for diapers, fuel, food, etc.,” she added. “Refugees who travel over the mountains to reach our camps are freezing to death as they attempt to flee their homeland. There are still many refugees who have nothing.”

The First Presbyterian Church has been helping to support this refugee camp even while being displaced due to building repairs. Now, with a return to their landmark sanctuary, and Chaplain John Erik Swift temporarily replacing Pastor Beilke who is on maternity leave, the congregation hopes to re-double their efforts to help these struggling families. Checks can be sent to the church at P.O. Box 763, Hudson, NY 12534 or on-line at