Last week, Outreach Center Thrift Store owners Ron and Jo Ann Mauch shipped out 20 rows of large pallets filled with mostly toys. The destination was a city in El Salvador where the toys will be given out at Christmastime through Kings Castle Ministries.
The big donation is nothing new for the Mauchs. In fact, this is the third year and fifth shipping container the couple have sent. The first shipment came after the Mauch's son, Ed, wanted to go on his first out-of-country mission trip.
"In 2010, we gained a new pastor at Emmanuel Church who put together a mission trip," Ron said. "My son was 14 at the time and the only way he could go was with an adult."
Photos by J.T. Whitehouse, Town Crier
Packing the toy box for children in El Salvador are Rose Halowatuk, Jo Ann Mauch, and Helen Mauch. They are all part of Outreach Center Thrift Store in Austintown, that shipped out 25,000 toys last week that will arrive in Castilo Delray in time to be given as Christmas gifts.
Ron decided to accompany his son and they took off for Castilo Delray and a journey that would change their lives. While in the Latin American country, they were able to talk to Don Triplett of Kings Castle Ministries. He told the father-son team how he uses toys to teach the children about Jesus.
"He told us about a Kings Castle event called Birthday for Jesus party," Ron said. "He told us one toy could change a child's life."
He said the Birthday Party for Jesus program is held around Christmas and by giving out toys. He said many of the children keep their toys for years, and every time they see it, they remember the lessons they were taught. It also brought joy to the children.
After Ron and Ed returned home, the minister at Emmanuel gave a sermon one morning about toys involved in mission trips. Ron said his leg started thumping, like a heartbeat. At that point, he believed God was telling him what he needed to do.
Ron and Jo Ann opened the Outreach Center Thrift Store in the Wedgewood Plaza in 2002. It is similar to the Goodwill stores in that they take in used, good unwanted items and sell them at a low price. The store gets a fair share of toys in and it seemed a good fit to share those toys with Kings Castle Ministries.
Everything was arranged, and the first shipment was sent three years ago. Since that shipment, the Mauchs have sent four more. The shipments involve the big container truck trailers that can hold the large pallets that are used for the toys. Last week's shipment contained 29,775 pieces of which 25,000 were toys. It's not easy packing that much and Ron said everything has to be perfect.
"We have to count exactly how many toys are in each box," he said. "The customs in El Salvador will actually empty the pallets and recount each to make sure the number is right."
The pallets shipped from Austintown last week is expected to reach Kings Castle Ministries some time in late November. With the shipment gone, the Mauchs have turned back to operating the store. Ron said a lot of the new used toy donations will be put out for Christmas right now. After Christmas, he will begin collecting for next year's container load.
As for Ed, he is now a senior at Fitch, but has returned to El Salvador three more times to work with Kings Castle Ministries.
Ron said Emmanuel Church and Victory Christian Center have helped with the shipping costs of the containers.