Friends Kim Thomas and Jaide Penney, members of Greentree Church in Egg Harbor Township, are racing around the world, each visiting 11 countries in 11 months. But it isn't a competition.

It's a cooperative venture through a Christian organization called Adventures in Missions.

The focus will be on serving the people who live there, helping with construction and other projects to improve their circumstances, said Thomas, 22, who grew up in Linwood, now lives in Longport and just graduated from Richard Stockton College.

"It's definitely humanitarian work, but we're doing it for our love for God," she said.

Thomas has already been on weeklong mission trips to Central America and the Caribbean. This time she wanted to see countries she learned about while completing her minor in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

Thomas will start in Africa, visiting Kenya, Rwanda and Uganda; then she'll go to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in Europe; and China, Thailand, Cambodia, India and Nepal in Asia.

"I felt a pull toward there," Thomas said of the countries she has studied.

She will travel with a group of about 70, which breaks up into working groups of eight in each country, she said.

Penney, 21, of Petersburg in Upper Township, will visit 11 countries in Central and South America, Thomas said. Penney works for an interior design firm.

Both women have to raise about $15,000 to pay for their travel, food and lodging on the trip, which starts in January. They are raising money through their blogs at kimthomas.theworldrace.org and jaidepenney.theworldrace.org.

Teacher wins camera

Renee Kurtz, French teacher at Alder Avenue Middle School in Egg Harbor Township, was one of four teachers nationwide to win an Epson DC-20 document camera for her creative ideas for using the camera in the classroom, the company said.

"I would love to be able to project culturally authentic materials (such as metro tickets, train schedules, flags, maps, newspapers, etc.) that I have brought back from my trips to France, so the whole class could see it ... and discuss what we can learn from the object," the company said Kurtz wrote in her entry.

Volunteer honored

Beth Montemurno, of Cape May Court House, is Cape Regional Medical Center's "Special Touch Volunteer" for the third quarter of 2013.

Montemurno has contributed nearly 900 hours of service in a variety of assignments since becoming a volunteer in 2009, including at the reception desk, as a patient feeder with Silver Spoons, in pet therapy and running errands.

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:

609-272-7219