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Teens to host benefit to aid girls with eating disorders

A Douglaston high school student and two of her friends who have founded their own nonprofit will host a brunch this weekend at which they hope to raise thousands of dollars for girls with eating disorders.

Kristina Saffran, 17, who lives in Douglaston and is a senior at St. Francis Preparatory School in Fresh Meadows, formed Project Heal, a nonprofit that raises money for girls with eating disorders who cannot afford treatment, in April 2008 with Roslyn High School student Becky Allen, 17, and Commack’s Liana Rosenman, 18.

The girls met in 2006 when they were being treated for eating disorders at North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System.

This Saturday the trio is hosting their second-annual benefit brunch, where they hope to bring in as $20,000 in contributions for girls with disorders.

“I’ve been in the hospital four times,” Saffran said. “I’ve seen people kicked out of hospitals because eating disorders were considered a mental illness, while it’s really a mental and medical illness. We want to help people who are motivated to get better, but don’t have the resources.”

The brunch will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Carlyle on the Green at 99 Quaker Meeting House Road in Farmingdale, L.I.

“We want people to accept the perceived flaws and imperfections of their body image,” Allen said. “On the street, you constantly hear people commenting negatively on their bodies. People should focus more on worldly goals. There’s more to life.”

The brunch will feature raffles and a silent auction, while guest speakers will include Evelyn Attia, director of the Columbia Center for Eating Disorders, and Danielle Engen, a Project Heal scholarship recipient.

To date, the nonprofit has raised more than $100,000, Allen said. It has already hosted a dress sale and a fashion show and its founders are planning a benefit concert this spring.

The brunch will cost $75 per attendee. Those interested in participating should visit theprojectheal.org.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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