CAPE GIRARDEAU — The saying "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime," could be applied to the Mission Task Force, formed by Cape Girardeau siblings Maddox and Brock Murphy.
The two, who attend St. Andrew's Lutheran Church, were challenged by their pastor, the Rev. Paul Short, last year to raise funds so a pastor in Guatemala could buy a truck to deliver supplies to a school. Their mother, Linda Murphy, said church members older than 10 were given $10 and asked to multiply it and bring it back to the church for the truck purchase.
Maddox, 10, and Brock, 15, both of whom were attending St. Paul Lutheran School in Jackson at the time, decided to involve their school. Brock used the $10 to make fliers and posters, and the siblings raised $1,200 through a casual-dress day. Students, who usually wear uniforms, paid $1 to wear a hat, $3 to wear the shirt of their choice, and $5 to go all casual, Linda Murphy said.
After their success with the St. Andrew project, Brock, now a freshman at Saxony Lutheran High School, and Maddox started talking about how if St. Paul could raise $1,200, "think what would happen if all the Lutheran schools got together and worked as a team," their mother said.
And so the Mission Task Force was born. With members ranging in grade from fifth through high school sophomore, the task force has 17 members from St. Paul, United in Christ Lutheran School in Frohna, Trinity Lutheran School in Cape Girardeau, Immanuel Lutheran School in Perryville and Saxony Lutheran High School in Jackson.
Chaired by Maddox Murphy, the group had its first meeting in January and decided to raise funds for Hope Seeds, a Bradenton, Fla.-based organization that provides garden seeds and teaches gardening practices around the world through missionaries and mission teams. Mike Mueller, who founded Hope Seeds with his wife, Jean, 16 years ago, said the seeds, kept at the organization's Bertrand site, mainly go to "countries where constant hardship is prevalent."
With a goal of $3,900 to send to Hope Seeds, the task force raised $3,958. At their Feb. 17 gathering at Saxony Lutheran, members approved buying a trophy that would go from school to school based on whichever school raised the highest percentage above the goal.
Saxony Lutheran social studies teacher Laura Hayden said this is the first time all the Lutheran schools have worked together toward a common goal, helping the village of Bogano in Africa and a Lutheran school there.
Hayden said this wouldn't be just a one-time gift but would continue to provide for the whole village.
"So far, we think that it's been cool just to see how much of a team we've all gotten (to be) and how (we've) started to make a difference at this age," Maddox said.
Maddox recently did a presentation at St. Paul about the Mission Task Force and Hope Seeds. She said the task force experience has taught her a lot.
"But it's been cool to see everyone jump in, and, like at my school when we were counting the money, everybody was so excited and willing to help," she said.
Brock said the task force is a good way to reach out to different locations in town and the world that they wouldn't have become involved with otherwise. He's also enjoying being more active and trying to help.
"We're blessed, so we're trying to spread that blessedness," he said.
Whitney Unterreiner, a student at United in Christ Lutheran School, agreed: "It's cool to help people out across the world," and it makes her feel good to do so.
A seventh-grader at Trinity Lutheran, Maggie Grimm said she thinks it's great that all the schools are coming together. She's been involved in church and donated to charity, but hasn't participated in something like the task force before.
"It's a great feeling knowing that you're helping other people," Grimm said.
In the future, Hayden said she and Linda Murphy have talked about looking at local needs.
"That's kind of the long-term goal," she said. "It's still so new, but the long-term goal that Mrs. Murphy and I discussed was doing local stuff and taking them out and working in some of these places."
If the task force raised money for a local organization, members could visit those groups and see their money in action, help serve dinner or organize a clothing drive, Hayden said.
Hayden said it's been "amazing to watch Maddox" in action.
"She has the maturity of somebody much older as she leads this. And her brother, Brock, isn't too bad, either, but it's really been Maddox that has done all this. She leads the meetings and organizes the meetings, does everything for the group," Hayden said.
Linda Murphy notes that her daughter doesn't want to take all the credit for the task force.
"She couldn't achieve these goals by herself," Murphy said. She added that with God's help and a great group of children, they can accomplish great things.