2011-08-17 / Local News

Volunteer wins modeling contest; organizes Girls Day

by KATE MOCKLER Reporter


Aniya Whitfield, 13, left, and Mesha Crout, 14, chat with Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez during snack time at Girls Day on Aug. 17. 
Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com Aniya Whitfield, 13, left, and Mesha Crout, 14, chat with Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez during snack time at Girls Day on Aug. 17. Photo by Jim SmerecakPurchase color photos at www.BeeNews.com For Amherst resident Christine Tjahjadi-Lopez, being one of the winners of the clothing store maurice’s Main Street Models contest was a dream come true, but not the dream you might expect.

“I’ve always wanted to be able to donate a large sum of money to someone that needed it,” said Tjahjadi-Lopez, a sophomore at the University at Buffalo.

She has been volunteering at St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy on Buffalo’s East Side since December. She helped first with the daily lunch program, then in the St. Luke’s Mission Mall, where she keeps the women’s section looking sharp.

“I just fell in love with it. I think God meant for me to be here,” she said.

Tjahjadi-Lopez got involved in the maurice’s Main Street Models contest earlier this year. She was one of 12 finalists selected from an initial pool of more than 500 young women from across the country.

She will model maurice’s cloth- ing for an upcoming campaign. She also received a $1,500 maurice’s gift card and a $7,500 donation from the company to the charity of her choice.

Selecting the charity was easy. She presented the check to St. Luke’s Mission of Mercy on Aug. 10. But she wanted to go further.

Working with the director of St. Luke’s, she developed an entire special day for 11 teenaged girls that the mission serves. She used her gift card to purchase new outfits for the girls. They had activity stations, which included manicures, making rosary bracelets, and doing a Bible scavenger hunt.

Darlene Volmy, the current Miss New York, surprised the girls by giving a talk. It was Volmy’s last official talk before she crowns the new Miss New York. The girls had snacks and held a fashion show with their new outfits.

Tjahjadi-Lopez planned the day to be about more than just looking good, though.

“I hope that they can learn to love themselves for who they are and who God made them to be,” she said. She and the two other event organizers developed an acronym, GLOW, which stands for “gift lived outward.”

Mary Marciniak, an attendee of Girls Day, explained that she had heard about the Girls Day when Tjahjadi-Lopez came to her class at St. Luke’s to talk about it.

“I was excited for the whole thing. I like trying on clothes,” she said.

Carla Velado, another attendee, was impressed by Tjahjadi Lopez’s decision to share the prize money.

“Most girls would just spend it on stuff. She did it to change how we see ourselves,” Velado said. email: kmockler@beenews.com

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