Community Impact —
Donation Cargo Program
Firestone provides space on its ship, the Harbel Cutlass, for relief goods and other donated cargo from U.S.-based, 501(c)(3) charitable organizations to help rebuild Liberia after its 14-year civil war.
Since 2006, when the company's Donation Cargo Program was formalized, more than 75 shipments have fulfilled the program's approval requirements and been transported free of charge to the port of Monrovia. Estimates provided by the humanitarian organizations put the value of this donated cargo at more than $2.5 million USD.
The following are highlights from just a few of the Donation Cargo Program projects:
- International Book Project
Volunteers from the Lexington-Frankfort Association of Ghanaians package the donated books to be sent to schools across Liberia. Students and faculty from the University of Liberia pose with a few of the donated books.
The International Book Project (IBP) based in Lexington, Ky., coordinated with the Liberian nonprofit YOSHUDEA to provide more than 8,000 English, math and science textbooks to a wide range of Liberian schools, from primary through university level. Most of these schools do not have a library and very few have more than one textbook per 10 students.
"The success of each project IBP undertakes in the developing world hinges on two things: a reliable overseas partner and adequate funding," said Rachel Lewis, Executive Director of the International Book Project. "Our partnership with Firestone allowed more of our funding to go directly to rebuilding the Liberian educational system, a key component to establishing peace and economic growth as the people there start a new chapter in their country's history."
- Hope Feeds: The Peanut Butter House
The Peanut Butter House is a joint effort between First Presbyterian Church of Fort Collins, Colo., and Hope Feeds, a program of Global Strategies for HIV Prevention, to address nutrition problems that plague HIV/AIDS patients and otherwise vulnerable populations in developing countries through the use of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTFs, including peanuts, powdered milk, powdered sugar and vitamins). Using materials shipped through the Donation Cargo Program, volunteers from these groups built a facility and are training young people to administer an RUTF program in Liberia.
"It was just unbelievable when we found out we'd been accepted to ship through the Firestone program — like an answered prayer," said Doran Geise, a Peanut Butter House volunteer. "We now have several thousand more dollars that will go to feeding nearby hospital patients and orphans."
- Camphor Mission
Volunteers in Akron, Ohio, pack the donated items for shipment.
With the help of FSNR, Rev. Kathy Dickriede, a United Methodist Pastor, and her husband, Dr. Danny Dickreide, an emergency room physician, coordinated a freight shipment to support their work at the Camphor Mission Station outside of Buchanan, Liberia. The program enabled the couple to transport donated items from Med Wish and Mentor United Methodist Church in Akron, Ohio, including fast-setting concrete, food, water, office and school supplies and furniture, medical books, an examination table, bikes and tools.
"The expense of sending a container is already high with transportation to and from the ports. If it was not for the Firestone donation program, I don't know if we would ever consider shipping another container," Rev. Dickriede said. "Working with Firestone helped tremendously on the financial end and gave us confidence as we were doing this for the first time."
- College Park Church
A greenhouse donated by College Park Church in Indianapolis, Ind., is assembled at Bethesda Christian Mission School in Monrovia, Liberia. Mosquito nets were also included in the church's fifth shipment through the Donation Cargo Program.
Indianapolis, Ind.-based College Park Church recently shipped its fifth freight container to Liberia to resupply its ongoing work at Bethesda Christian Mission School in Monrovia. The latest shipment included food, greenhouses, toiletries, children's books, sporting equipment and mosquito nets.
"If you would have asked me back in 2005 how you get food from Indianapolis to Liberia, I didn't have a clue," said Ardie Bucher, a church member who has traveled to the country three times since the organization began shipping containers. "Our partnership with the Liberian people would be close to impossible without Firestone's help. The neat thing about Firestone's program, it's easy to use, it's reliable, and it saves us money. And that's money we can use to help the people of Liberia."