Bikes for the World

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Featured Volunteer: Margie Ligon

This month we head back down 95 South to our partners in Charleston, to recognize this month's volunteer Margie Ligon (here on the left).

Margie worked with the Youth Ministry at Philadelphia United Methodist Church in Fort Mill, South Carolina....barely....this is nearly on the North Carolina line, quite a distance from our warehouse in Charleston.

Here at home in DC, if someone had contacted us hoping to do a collection nearly 200 miles from our warehouse HQ we may have been forced to turn down the offer.   The strain on our resources may have been too great.

But when an entire United Methodist community comes together and offers a statewide challenge...you tend to pay attention and make exceptions.

And that is what brought Philadelphia UM and Margie Ligon and us together. Margie heard about Bikes for the World through a state UM conference where their Bishop offered up a challenge. He was asking each district to collect XX number of bikes (we don't know the actual number, but as Margie tells us it was not aggressive enough for her).

"I felt like my church by itself could collect what he was expecting an entire district of 66 churches to collect," thought Margie. Never one to sit back and wait, Margie cut to the chase, she contacted us directly here in DC and said, how do I get our church on your calendar?

We connected Margie with our area coordinator Paul Keefer in Charleston and the rest is sort of history.

She recruited the youth volunteers you see above to help collect and prep the used donated bikes. She also engaged the Youth Ministry in a fundraiser to help raise money to buy new bikes to supplement the donation...there was no way she was falling short of the Bishop's goal.

In fact Margie waged her own goal within their congregation, 200-300 bikes. What did Philadelphia UM end up collecting this spring? 289 bikes.

Charleston BfW bikes in Costa Rica
The youth group along with assistance from the men's group bought and assembled 114 brand new bikes to be donated among two BfW partners, CESTA in El Salvador and MiBici/FINCA Costa Rica.  But the outreach in the community also brought in 175 donated used bikes!

To quote BfW Coordinator Paul Keefer, "Margie don't mess around."

Those nearly 300 bikes were shared among two containers shipped in April and June from our location in Charleston. The first arrived in El Salvador and the second was shared among community groups in rural Costa Rica.

CESTA trained mechanic Cristian Martinez
In Costa Rica, bikes were sold to rural residents needing transportation for work and school. Money raised will help support many local businesses in the form of loans to increase production.

In El Salvador new mechanics like Cristian learn skills that will help them professionally to earn more for their families.

"I learned new skills, things I never did before, earn money, and also encouraging me to realize I could take on new challenges in other fields," Cristian Martinez.

Margie moved on to First United Methodist Church of Belmont North Carolina where she was recruited to help the Youth Ministry there. From what we've seen at BfW when Margie puts her mind, heart, and soul into something she affects positive results. We have no doubt there are great things in store for Belmont. And we hope to partner with Margie again soon.

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