By William K. Alcorn
Pallets containing 65,000 pounds of educational, medical, building and other supplies are on their way to Guatemala through the efforts of the local Mission of Love Foundation and the Air Force Reserve.
A huge Air Force Reserve C-17 cargo plane from Joint Base (Army and Air Force) Lewis-McChord in Washington state landed about 11:30 p.m. Monday at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station to take on Mission of Love supplies for the humanitarian mission via the Denton Program.
The supplies, secured onto pallets and then loaded onto the C-17 by members of the 910th Airlift Wing’s 76th Aerial Port Squadron, were scheduled to be met today in Guatemala City by a team of Guatemalan volunteers who will transport the materials to the House of Dreams Pediatric Hospice and the Metropolitan Hospital in the capital city.
The House of Dreams, built over the last 18 months by Mission of Love, is scheduled to open next month, said Kathleen Price of Austintown, founder and director of the Mission of Love Foundation.
Some of this shipment to Guatemala is building supplies, such as linoleum, needed to finish the House of Dreams, a place where children can come with their families. Each child will receive an animal that will stay with their family when the child dies, Price said.
The Denton Program allows private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods such as clothing, food, medical and educational supplies and agricultural equipment and vehicles to countries in need.
Mission of Love is the largest user of the Denton Program in the world, said Price’s husband, Atty. Robert Price, who goes on missions with his wife.
Other members of the 15-member Mission of Love team bound for Guatemala on Jan. 18-26 to perform cleft-palate surgery on 50 children are Kurt Zabel and Charles Scheetz, both of Boardman; and Dr. Richard Scheetz of Columbus, formerly of Boardman.
Zabel and Charles Scheetz handle logistics, and Dr. Scheetz, Charles’ brother and one of four physicians on the team, is an oral and maxillofacial surgeon who treats diseases, injuries and defects in the head, neck, face, jaws and the hard and soft tissues of the oral (mouth) and maxillofacial (jaws and face) region.
Volunteers pay all of their own expenses on the mission trips, Atty. Price said.
Kathleen Price, who calls herself the “Queen of Trash,” said much of the supplies she sends on Missions of Love are surplus and used items that otherwise would end up in a landfill.
Price says when she hears of a school or nursing home closing, she asks for items that are going to be discarded, such as school desks and chairs, cabinets and hospital beds.
They are taken by volunteers to the Mission of Love warehouse at the Ravenna Arsenal, where they are sorted and packed for the next mission to someone or someplace in need.
“We get no grants or government money. It’s all grass roots ... all volunteer. I put out the word via the Mission of Love network of friends, and it happens,” said Price.
For example, Charles Scheetz owns a medical supply business, Source Products Ltd., and said many of his vendors donate equipment and supplies.
The Mission of Love also provides important training opportunities to 910th personnel, as well as an “awesome experience helping a good cause,” said Air Force Reserve Sr. Master Sgt. Kevin Massie, superintendent and senior air reserve technician with the 76th Aerial Port Squadron.
“We don’t do a lot of cargo movement here, so it is good training for us,” said Massie, of Boardman, originally of Poland.
“This is not just my mission. In life, it’s everybody’s mission to extend a hand to people in need. We couldn’t do it without the volunteers and donors,” Price said.
For information about Mission of Love, or to donate money or volunteer, go to www.missionoflove.org and click on “Donate Online Now” or “Volunteer: Lend a Hand.”