Joyce and Jeff Hoefler of Poland were among more than two dozen volunteers who braved the snow and cold weather Saturday morning as they cleared out a school and loaded supplies, equipment and furniture on several trucks. It was part of a Mission of Love trip to outfit a school for blind children in South America.
The Mission of Love is based in Austintown and has been providing schools, orphanages and medical facilities to poor children around the world. The recent project was aimed at clearing out a closed school and shipping the items to Guatemala. Mission founder/Director Kathy Price has arranged for an Air Force cargo plane to deliver the school shipment to Guatemala, where it will be delivered to a new school for blind children.
The donation came about when a parishioner at St. Mary and Joseph Church in Newton Falls mentioned Mission of Love when the school closed last year. The Diocese of Youngstown used some equipment for its own mission schools, but decided to donate the rest.
Joyce Hoefler of Poland cleans shelves at St. Mary and Joseph School in Newton Falls on Saturday. The volunteer team helped box school equipment and furniture that will be used in a school in Guatemala in March.
"We are thrilled its going to help other children," said school secretary Joanne Newcomb.
As with most Mission projects, things happen fast. Price put the word out early last week that volunteers were needed to help box the books and equipment and move the furniture onto some big rigs. Responding to the request were Joyce and Jeff, who were both familiar with Mission of Love and what it does.
Joyce said her first encounter with Price and the Mission was three years ago when she had Price speak to her Girl Scout troop, troop 80640 based at First Federated Church in the North Jackson-Ellsworth area.
"I had Kathy come in and speak to my girls," Joyce said. "They learned to see there are children in need, who are hungry and have no clothes or things to play with. Ever since Kathy spoke, the girls have committed to helping Mission of Love."
She said the girls hold fundraisers throughout the year and donate to Mission of Love. Joyce herself, along with Jeff, have become avid volunteers for the group and when the call goes out for help, they show up ready to do whatever it takes.
"We basically help out whenever we can locally and at the warehouse in Ravenna," Jeff said.
They helped clear the school on Saturday, then went to the warehouse to help pack the items on wooden pallets. The school supplies will be heading to Guatemala in mid-March via a military cargo plane.
Joyce said helping the Mission provide for poor children around the world has been a good lesson for Troop 80640's girls. She said it also has affected her and her husband, who have been there for Price many times in the past three years.
"We learned that when you work together as a group, you can accomplish great things," she said.