Monday, February 13, 2017

Getting Things from Here to There!

When my kids were little, I used to read them picture books about modes of transportation and how things get from there to here and here to there. When Allen and Trish asked me to speak to Jim Cofer, who collects donations and organizes shipping for Sowers4Pastors, I had no idea it would be like listening to a very advanced picture book about modes of transportation and how things get from there to here and here to there.

Fredericktowne Baptist Church Strikes Again

Jim and Denise Cofer
Jim and his wife Denise live in Maryland, and they manage this ministry in cooperation with Fredericktowne Baptist Church. If FBC sounds familiar then you must have been paying attention to this blog because the good people of Fredericktowne Baptist are key players in the ministries of Sowers4Pastors and it was the Sowers sending church.

A Private Answer to Public Storage

Mr. Cofer explained that when Allen first started getting a shipping container loaded, there was a barn-like place where the supplies were staged and packed. That worked, but eventually, the base of operation was moved and the Sowers needed a new location in the area around the Cofer’s stomping grounds. Throughout the year, when someone had a donation, Jim would volunteer to keep it at his house. Jim and Denise’s unfinished basement sort of became the Sowers answer to Public Storage. Over the past 7 or 8 years Jim’s role as a sort of shipping guru (my word, not Jim’s!) has grown, though that basement continues to be put to good use for storing donations and any personal online orders placed by the Sowers. Jim described it as staging focus central.

There’s an art to consolidating boxes, leaving no wasted space. Clothing donations serve as packing materials and are used to stuff every spare inch. If Trish orders something for the household from Amazon, she knows she can have the package delivered to the Cofer’s house, where it will be removed from its excessive packing materials and ridiculously large box and repacked with other supplies, which will eventually go onto the shipping container.

Not the Lone Shipping Guy

Mary and Gary Richard
Though this is a yearlong process, things rev up in September or October. During the fall, Fredericktowne Baptist uses its connections to a trucking company to procure a large trailer to store and organize items. Then the church puts out a call for Gifts for Gracias. The focus of donations can change from year to year. Some years, their primary drive has focused on collecting soccer balls. This year, they collected those infamous backpacks filled with school supplies and toiletries.  Jim is quick to point out that he is not The Lone Shipping Guy. Mary and Gary Richard are his co-chairs of the effort. Jim said, “It isn’t something I could do without them. We work well together.”

On Thursday evenings, while youth and adult choirs rehearse inside FBC, non songbird volunteers gather to help pack donations. Just about every Thursday evening from September-February you can find volunteers stuffing backpacks and organizing donations. Collections continue coming in for several months, until there’s a good amount of supplies in the trailer/staging area. When they have enough things, Jim, Mary, or Gary contact Allen and wait for him to give the green light to get the shipping container started.

I told you this was an advanced book on how things get from here to there. In the retelling of this story, I’ve already used up all of my allotted space and the shipping container hasn’t even been filled yet!

- posted by Christi

1 comment:

Jules said...

I'm glad to meet Jim and his helpers! Now a face to my shipping labels! Thank you for doing this job for the Sowers!