Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Bicycle Shipment Day!

What a terrific day!  I got to take part in a special event: Bicycle Shipment Day with Bicycles for Humanity (B4H)!  B4H was the charity that I highlighted in March.  It collects unwanted yet still usable bicycles and sends them to countries where they are greatly needed for transportation.  Today’s shipment of bicycles is on its way to Walvis Bay, Namibia!

While I was riding my March century, which was for B4H, a realization struck me.  It’s easy enough to try to put the word out about my twelve charities or even to make financial contributions.  Those are certainly important things, but I found that I want to give in more tangible ways, too.  So, as I was pedaling down the road that day, I resolved to look for opportunities this year to do actual work on behalf of the people and animals I hope to serve.  Helping load the B4H bicycles into the shipping container was just such a chance.

Volunteering to help load the bicycles almost didn’t work out for me.  The original shipment date was May 24th, but I wasn’t able to get off work that day.  It turned out that the shipping truck got double booked that day, and so B4H had to reschedule.  I got to go today!

Mary and Davis Harwell are the primary organizers of the Georgia chapter of B4H.  I had been in e-mail contact with Mary in recent months, but it was so good to actually meet her and Davis today.  They have coordinated Bicycle Shipment Day for several years now, and so they know just what to do to make the process as smooth and efficient as possible.

B4H rents several units at a storage facility to keep bicycles as they collect them.  There were also wheels, tires, and various boxes of bicycles parts to include with the shipment.  In fact, a bicycle shop in Arkansas was closing and heard about B4H.  They donated their entire leftover inventory!  You can see some of it on the right-hand side of this storage unit:

Someone even donated some in-line skates:

I hope there are enough paved roads and/or hard-packed dirt roads in Namibia so that the skates can be put to good use along with the bicycles.

About a dozen of us were on hand to load the shipping container.  The first thing we did was to get all of the bicycles out of the storage units and group them by adult and children’s sizes.  The bikes had been prepped beforehand, which involved removing the front tire and pedals and zip-tying them to the frame:

This makes the bicycles more stackable, allowing a greater number to be placed in the shipping container.

Here are all of the bicycles waiting for the truck to arrive:

That’s two different groups of bicycles – over 300 in all!  Wow!

As we volunteers loaded the truck, we divided up by task.  Some of us rolled/toted the bicycles to the truck.  Other lifted them up into the truck.  Still others stacked them inside the truck.  The heavier bicycles went on the bottom.  Lighter bicycles (mostly the children’s), wheels, and tires filled in spaces toward the top of the container.  Also, one volunteer took inventory as we loaded each item into the container.  This information has to be included with the customs forms.  Here are Mary (left) and Kristie (right) making sure that these boxes are inventoried correctly:

We also had Allie the helper dog with us!  She belongs to Mary and Davis.

Here are before and after shots of the shipping container:

Empty truck

Loading the last few items

The truck headed on its way to the port in Savannah, and in a few months the bicycles will be in their new home in Namibia.  I pray that they truly will transform lives, helping people collect water, go to school, and get items to market more easily.

After we finished loading the shipping container, I met my father for lunch.  He lives near Chattanooga, and since container loading was in Alpharetta, north of Atlanta, it was a good opportunity for us to get together.  (It’s about a three-hour drive between our houses.)  Daddy and I had researched where we might meet.  Can you believe that – independently of each other – we both came up with the Marietta Diner?  It was good food and even better company :)  By the way, Guy Fieri has featured the Marietta Diner on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives on the Food Network – cool!

As I was driving home after having lunch with Daddy, I tuned my car radio to a classical music station.  My love of classical music is largely due to him, and having just spent time with him, I felt like listening to it then.  It was grand riding on the interstate through downtown Atlanta, listening to Aaron Copland’s “Fanfare for the Common Man.”  Daddy called after it began, and I told him to tune his radio to it.  Right after it was over, he called me back, and we talked about what a great piece it is.  It was also the perfect way to end today’s wonderful adventure.  It reminded me of the interconnectedness that we all share whether we’re in the United States, Namibia, or wherever.

Hear "Fanfare for the Common Man" here:

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