In 2017, approximately 1,500 children locally, in other states and the Philippines were helped by Mission Love Seeds — and not just for Christmas. And now the children of Immokalee, Florida, join that group.

Founders Barbi Carroll and her husband John Hawbaker began Mission Love Seeds in 2004 to help the village of Galilee in the Philippines by sending rice.

“Since then, the villages have increased to 14, and Destin residents and other supporters have worked side-by-side with us to help provide food, medical/dental clinics, clothes, meals and more for children,” Carroll told The Log. “They also provided everything necessary to allow the children in the Philippines, Immokalee and locally to have a wonderful Christmas.”

MLS has decided to “adopt” the children of Immokalee who lost everything in Hurricane Irma. They recently made their second trip there, loaded with Christmas toys, bikes, food and more — and it won’t be the last trip. Plans are already underway for a third trip in the early spring.

Jane Carron, founder of Generous Hearts Ministry here in Destin, teamed up with the Hawbakers to help provide for the children and families in Immokalee. This was Carron’s first mission trip, even though she has worked with MLS on several projects in the Philippines in the past.

“I loved our projects together,” Carron told The Log. “Barbi and I have worked on projects together for years. Generous Heart built a school on the same property as a church built by Mission Love Seeds in the Philippines. That is an ongoing project to help the people of that village."

The two organizations also worked on an orphanage in Haiti after the earthquake, and MLS helped Generous Heart when the Wheeler family’s house burned in 2017.

“Barbi and I have the same goals and think so much alike,” Carron said. “I am blessed to have her in my life. Our hearts have the same compassion.”

A special moment for the Hawbakers on this trip was the children singing "Happy Birthday" to John on his 80th birthday.

This was also a special trip because Carroll’s sister, Lura Counts, made her first mission trip with her.

“It was so wonderful for Lura and I to work side by side for the very first time,” Carroll said. “Lura has been a big supporter of Mission Love Seeds for years, but this was her first time to come with me on a mission trip or to work with me to help kids in need.”

While Carron was in Immokalee, she met a single woman with two children who was living in the church since her home was destroyed in the hurricane.

“She has applied for a Habitat home and we will help fund it for her if she gets approved,” Carron said. “There are so many needs there that I will continue to fund projects. My daughter, Tiffany McDaniel, and grandson, William McDaniel, are also helping. They live in Ohio.”

To see hundreds of photos of the children in Immokalee and in the Philippines, visit www.facebook.com/groups/120924667405/.

If you would like to become a part of Mission Love Seeds’ growing ministry, call 850-865-1055 or 850-865-6161, email missionloveseeds@cox.net or visit missionloveseeds.org.

“I think one of the greatest things that came out of this project is how many people in Destin reached out to help others,” Carron said. “Destin is a giving city. I am blessed to call it home.

“What a blessing heading back to Destin with huge smiles on our faces, knowing we left behind very happy and smiling children,” she added. “Mission accomplished … again.”