SEYMOUR, Tenn. (WATE) — Two shipping containers filled with donated school equipment are now bound for West Africa thanks to a pair of schools in Sevier County and a group of volunteers.

After recent classroom upgrades, the two Sevier County schools wanted to ensure that the old desks and equipment are put to good use rather than sent to a landfill.

The surplus equipment was donated to Develop Africa, a Johnson City charity devoted to improving education in Africa. Patrick Doyle, CEO of the Seymour-based DMS Health Technologies who also serves as a lacrosse coach at Seymour High School, took on the shipping challenges and donated the costs.

On Monday, students from the lacrosse, wrestling, football and basketball teams in Sevier County loaded two shipping containers with the school equipment. The equipment will now be delivered to six schools in Sierra Leone, West Africa.

Doyle said that he has done mission work in Africa in the past and knows firsthand just how much the equipment is needed.

“They would walk five, ten miles to school and they would get there and there would be dirt floors and no desks, no tables no anything so the kids would sit on the floor and try to learn. At that point I kind of vowed that if I ever had an opportunity to do something I would step in and do it,” Doyle said. “I think it’s an opportunity for Sevier County Schools to take the lead in the state of Tennessee and show a different way to take care of the surplus. The fact that we’re able to benefit some children in Africa, it’s phenomenal.”

“Education has no boundaries – and there is no bound to this local group’s desire to put perfectly good school equipment in the hands of a group who needs it most. While it would have been much easier to simply consign these desks to the landfill, this group took on the challenge and cost of navigating international shipping requirements – and now a group of local volunteers is stepping up to load containers and start the next leg of the journey to put this much-needed school equipment into the hands of kids in Sierra Leone, West Africa.”

DMS Health Technologies