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Manteca woman taking clothes to Haiti for kids
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Last February, Sophia Payan opened her Modesto dance studio.

It was about that time the Manteca resident - she’s a 2005 graduate of Central Catholic High while also attending St. Anthony’s School - heard of the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti.

“Ever since then I had an urgent desire of doing more and helping out,” said Payan.

She used the her studio’s opening to raise money for Haiti.

Payan also went online, discovering the Global Orphan Project.

Thanks to the ministry, she and a friend will spend a week in Haiti to donate two suit cases filled with shoes and clothes. Payan, who is scheduled to leave Wednesday for the island nation, indicated that shoes were a tough order to fill since each had to be of a specific requested type - Crocs.

She did accomplish the task with the help of friends and business folks.

“I’m excited about going there,” said Payan, who will be spending time with Haitian youngsters playing games and other activities while donating shoes and clothes as a volunteer for the Global Orphan Project.

She credits her religious beliefs for her need to give back to people.

“My dream has always been to help the less fortunate children experience the performing arts,” she said.

At age 7, Payan began her journey by studying the performing arts. This opened the doors for opportunities that included attending several conservatories.

Her final conservatory experience was at the New York Conservatory of Dramatic Arts for Film and Television.

“I returned to California hoping to give back to the community and what God had given to me,” said Payan, who opened Sophia’s Dance Journey at 711 10th St., Modesto, as part of that effort.

The studio will continue to operate during her time away.

“I will be visiting Haiti for the first time,” she said. “The country is in great need and distress since the terrible earthquake that caused such devastation.”