LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — One group of central Arkansans is preparing to leave for a mission trip to Guatemala on Feb. 23. The trip was coordinated by St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway.

But before the group of volunteers leaves for that trip, they are trying to collect donations. The group said it needs money for medical supplies and children and women’s clothing for the people they are trying to help.

Any donations can be delivered to St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Conway or St. Marks Episcopal Church in Little Rock.

St. Peter’s will also hold an art show on Saturday, Jan. 26 to raise funds for the trip. The event starts at 6:30 pm.

For the last 11 years St. Peter’s Episcopal Church has coordinated the annual trip to Guatemala.

“The areas where we go are fairly remote so their ability to get to a healthcare facility is really, really limited,” said Marianne Black. 

She has been volunteering and helping coordinate the trip since the program began.

“We set up in little bitty tiny villages at the end of a dirt road, set up a medical clinic and over the course of a week we’ll go to four different villages and see about 500 patients,” said Black.

Black said the humanitarian work has been made possible by all the volunteers who pour their hearts into helping others.

“We have physicians, nurses and laboratory people, at times we’ve had physical therapists, we have a young woman who does eyeglasses for us,” said Black.

Black said, they now need the help of other central Arkansans.

“Financial donations are always greatly beneficial as well because that helps us to but the medicines and so forth that we need to conduct the trip down there,” said Black.

Black said aside from limited health care, the people they have encountered also have limited resources.

“Really no electricity to speak of, no running water,” said Black. “Clean water is very difficult to find so it’s pretty poor living conditions.”

Drew Lupkey has been volunteering for the past eight years.

“Of course, we get a lot of fulfillment out of it,” said Lupkey. “We know that we are providing a service that otherwise wouldn’t be there.”

He said the annual trip to Guatemala not only benefits those in need but benefits the volunteers equally.

“It adds a level of empathy that a lot of people don’t get the chance to develop,” said Lupkey.

He went on to say, you don’t have to travel to a different continent to make a difference.

“Everybody has skills that they can offer at home, abroad, anywhere,” said Lupkey. “Just keeping an open mind and an open heart and understanding that someone might be less fortunate and that you always have an opportunity to help them in some way.”