VIENNA - "This is a story of love ... A love story. It's truly a Mission of Love, our organization and our foundation."
That is the way Kathleen Price described the organization she founded, Mission of Love, on the eve of the group's latest ambitious project.
Price and other volunteers were on hand Friday after at the Youngstown Air Reserve Station when the 910th Airlift Wing loaded 60,000 pounds of humanitarian aid onto 19 U.S. Air Force pallets and into a C-5 Galaxy cargo plane.
The cargo includes building materials, medical supplies, school desks, chalk boards and other materials. The destination of the humanitarian aid is Guatemala, more than 2,700 miles away, where Price and a group of volunteers from the medical community will be waiting.
"We are going down mainly to work on building a children's hospice," Price said. "Three years ago, we met Dr. Edger Moran, who offered his hospital in Guatemala for us to arrange surgeries in. With that, he took me to the site of his dream."
Moran's dream was to build a place in Guatemala for sick children. Once back in the United States, Price put the wheels in motion with her group. Now she can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
"We are now working on the interior," she said. "We hope to have it open in March. Dr. Moran is calling it his House of Dreams.
''Anything we can do for the children, especially the children that are dying, that's our responsibility. Who is closer to God than the children? That's mainly what this cargo and this trip is about."
Price will begin her flight to Guatemala today and she has organized a team of 16 doctors and medical people.
"We are also going to be meeting with a lot of volunteers there, too," Price said. "We couldn't do it without them."
While the majority of the cargo is building material for the hospice center, Price said other basic necessities are included.
"The stuff that we take for granted in America simply don't exist in third world countries," she said. "This is all surplus supplies that would normally go to our landfills because we no longer need them. Meanwhile, for a place like Guatemala, it is worth its weight in gold.
"There's also clothes in there and shoes for children."
Price began her charity work 24 years ago when a vacation to Mexico led to a trip to Red Cross.
"I sat in need of antibiotics and I noticed the Red Cross official had less on her shelf than I did for my family of six," Price said.
Upon her return, Price set the wheels in motion for what would ultimately result in the Mission of Love Foundation. The group has completed seven humanitarian missions between 2011 and 2012 alone.
"You know these folks are literally walking with no shoes, living with no food, with their only hope that Mission of Love can say yes for their child," Price said. "We have to make sure that everything is on that plane and everything will be at the site, because they don't have these supplies there."
The Mission of Love takes advantage of the Denton Program, a federal a commodity transportation program which allows private U.S. citizens and organizations to use space available on U.S. military cargo planes to transport humanitarian goods. According to Price, the Mission of Love is the largest user of the Denton Program in the world.
Price's organization is also backed by individuals and local businesses.
"The people that have the donated items will go through the Denton Program and get approval for whatever they want shipped," Air Force Reserve Master Sgt. Kevin Massie said. "Once they find the nearest military base, they ship the things through. With Kathy being close by with the Mission of Love, we are able to accept her stuff in, make sure it is air worthy and ship it out."
Massie, 37, is the superintendent of the 76th Aerial Post Squadron, stationed at the Air Reserve Station. He has worked with Price and the Mission of Love many times in the past, shipping cargo around the world.
"Kathy is a really amazing person," Massie said. "There are not a lot of people out there who can do what she does. She and her organization go out there and they get the stuff donated to them.
"I know this stuff makes a huge difference on the other end. We don't see that part of it here, but we all know how important this is."
Price's message is a simple one: give back when you are able.
"If I could teach the people here how blessed we are. It is time now to go and reach out," she said. "The people I see here are not starving like those in other parts of the world. They are not lacking the medical care like the people I see. We have to get out of that comfort zone and say it is not just about helping people here. We are all a part of the world and we have to start expanding our horizons."