OCEAN PINES — The standard idea of community service most people have is donating supplies to a local shelter or participating in an annual beach clean-up. However, to 13-year-old Romy McVicker, community has a whole other meaning.
From Aug. 5-16, Romy and her mother Leah will travel to Antigua, Guatemala in order to deliver supplies to an orphanage and others in need.
Romy was born in Guatemala. When she was little more than a year old, Romy was adopted and brought to the United States. Leah herself is Colombian-born and was adopted and brought to this country.
While in Guatemala, Romy and Leah will visit an orphanage to deliver everything from toothbrushes and underwear to stuffed animals and Frisbees. Besides delivering goodies, the two are visiting the orphanage for the kids who they will play with and get to know.
One of the main goals of the McVickers’ trip is to also deliver bunk beds to Guatemalans who would not be able to afford beds on their own. $180 buys the frame, mattresses, and bedding. At least one of the beds will be donated to local bomberos, or paramedics/ firefighters, in Antigua.
Anyone looking to support this cause can donate to Romy’s Service Trip to Guatemala!, a gofundme page set up by Leah in order to pay for donated supplies, not for the trip itself.
“People can specify if they want to donate, but beds are the most popular,” says Leah.
Currently, the McVickers have enough donations to supply three bunk beds. Leah explains, “We would love to be able to do five or more. There’s actually a waiting list [for beds]. … Everybody who donates gets acknowledged.”
This is Romy and Leah’s first time travelling with this organization, called Our Guatemala: Travel with Purpose. The service organization based in Antigua, Guatemala was founded by Leceta Chisholm Guibault and her husband Jean, adoptive parents of children from Central and South America. The organization’s mission is to assist the underserved populations of Guatemala as well as introduce others to its culture and people.
The last service trip attended by the McVickers was five years earlier in Guatemala with a group called Mayan Families. For the past 12-13 years, they have also sponsored Guatemalan school children, providing them with supplies and clothes. Romy uses her own funds to support a child herself.
Though she is shy by nature, Romy is passionate about her mission.
“I want to meet people from other parts of the world and meet other people who were also adopted from Guatemala. I always like helping people,” said Romy.
Her mother Leah, evidently proud of her daughter’s drive, said, “She’s very proud of her heritage. Our connection with Guatemala is permanent.”
Both Romy and Leah plan on returning to Guatemala over the years to perform similar services.