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Working Wonders in Neenah

Americans take things like plastic prescription medication bottles for granted, throwing them away by the millions. In the equatorial countries of Africa this same disposable pill bottle is a precious commodity. It is the only effective means of keeping lifesavings medications from quickly losing their potency in tropical heat.

Making the connection between surplus and scarcity…in items from pill bottles to printing presses…is what makes ICF’s approach to African relief unique. The center of this activity is an old brick warehouse in Neenah, Wisconsin. Here’s where needs can be met at a surprisingly low cost, with the help of dedicated volunteers carrying on a tradition of Midwestern thrift.

Going Green and Making a Difference:
Americans take things like old shoes and clothing for granted, storing them away in their basement or closet until they do spring cleaning. In the many places we support in Africa these items are a precious commodity. Can you imagine walking down a road riddled with stones and pot holes, watching out for snakes without decent shoes?

"A typical American throws away roughly 67.9 pounds of used clothing and rags each year. Collectively, Americans discard two quadrillion pounds (that’s a two with fifteen zeroes) of used clothing and textiles into the landfills each year." The Go Green initiative is a simple act that not only creates a culture of environmental responsibility but unites people in an effort to make real and lasting changes that will protect children and the environment for years to come.

Making the connection between surplus and scarcity…in items from shoes to printing presses...is what makes ICF’s approach to African relief unique. The center of this activity is an old brick warehouse in Neenah, Wisconsin. Here’s where needs can be met at a surprisingly low cost, with the help of dedicated volunteers carrying on a tradition of Midwestern thrift.

Shoes and clothing are only a few of the items you’ll find in a stroll through the ICF warehouse. In one corner, a set of paper folding machines are being readied for a vocational training program in Liberia. A medical missionary in Ghana will get the nearby electrocardiograph machines donated by a Green Bay hospital. A large amount of walkers, canes and crutches are next to the shipping dock donated by another non-profit group, sorted and nested like Russian nesting dolls to fit the greatest number in the smallest space.

In the humble two-desk office at the front of the building, a volunteer works a phone. He is calling across the US for all types of in-kind donations, using a very detailed list compiled from the specific requests of African missionaries.


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The Big Day arrives
The warehouse’s most remarkable scene will occur later that night, when a crowd of volunteers excitedly gather to fill the next shipping container bound for Africa. They pride themselves on the ability to tightly pack every square centimeter, with the help of a clothing baler that fits a full suitcase’s clothing into a space the size of a daily newspaper. As they work hand-in-hand, they know that a tighter pack means more benefit for Africa.

Soon a truck comes and hauls the steel container away, headed for a waiting oceangoing ship and the next step on the road to easing the suffering of Africa’s neediest children.

Next: Pastor Ghansah’s victorious struggle


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