Massapequa resident Jake Stremel always had a big heart, now he's going to share it halfway around the world.
Stremel, 20, will be leaving this week for Ghana, where he will work as a volunteer for three weeks.
He will be participating in a program sponsored by International Volunteer HQ, an organization that places volunteers around the world.
"I've always thought in my heart that if you have more than someone else, you should share it," said Stremel.
It's a philosophy that his mother Kristen Ferarri said he's had since he's been a child.
"He was always collecting strays, animals and children, said Ferrari, whose blog appears on Massapequa Patch.
Now Stremel will likely be helping kids without a home, he says he's likely going to be placed in an orphanage in Ghana, a country, where about 28 percent of the population lives under the poverty line, according to a 2007 estimate listed in the CIA World Fact Book.
The trip will be a personal test for Stremel, who once had thoughts of joining the Peace Corps.
This will be his first volunteer opportunity abroad.
"I always wanted to go to Africa," he said, maybe do work with the Peace Corps."
That dream is on hold, because he has yet to attend college, but Stremel said he has friends who've volunteered in Africa, and he wanted to try.
"I was never one who said I want to go to college and be a lawyer," he said. "I want to travel and help people."
He will receive training once he arrives, but he will be on his own without many of the comforts most Americans take for granted.
But that's the way Stremel wants it.
"It's more hands on," he saud "I don't have to wonder if the money's really going to an organization."
Stremel has been raising money for the trip rather than donations, because volunteers are being encouraged to put funds into the local economy in Ghana.
He has set up a web page to collect donations.
He's hoping that he will work individually with the children.
"I've always liked working with children because in a way, I'm very childish myself," he said.
"I've always liked doing magic tricks and playing games when I'm around kids."
When Stremel returns home, he'll need to find a job and is thinking of reuniting a rock band he's played with, but he also hopes he'll look back with a sense of accomplishment.
"I'd like to just know that I did a good job, and made people want to do charity work," he said. "Just to know I helped."