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"Tractor Dave" Travels Cross Country For Charity
A couple of years ago, Dave Wolfsen's 1937 Co-op No. 2 tractor was rusting away in the brush. This summer it's pulling a 20-ft. camper 9,300 miles through 48 states. "Tractor Dave" is on a mission to raise $200,000 to split between two of his favorite causes: the Food Resource Bank (FRB) and Christian Reformed World Relief Committee (CRWRC).
  The tractor adventure started innocently when a friend mentioned it would be fun to haul their tractors from Fremont, Mich., to Iowa and Illinois for tractor rides. Wolfsen thought it would be more fun to drive to the events, then considered driving around the Great Lakes and raising money for charity.
  "After awhile I got this cross country thing in my head, and I wasn't sleeping at night thinking about it," Wolfsen says.
  Over the next year and a half, things fell into place. Friends and family encouraged Wolfsen, and he partnered with his Christian Reformed Church to map out the route and contact groups and churches that would support him and hold events along the way. The charities provided the motivation.
  FRB is partially funded by farmers who pledge the proceeds from crop acres and livestock. FRB is based in Chicago with members from 15 denominations.
  Wolfsen likes its focus.
  "The motto is we don't give anything away other than the opportunity and knowledge so one can maintain dignity and improve themselves," Wolfsen says.
  He saw some of the results firsthand when he traveled to Nicaragua and met farmers in one of the programs. FRB buys land, and new farmers receive 5-acre plots to farm. They are taught how to farm, and community centers are built to develop communities of people that work together. By the sixth year many have paid off their land, paid for their homes and are making a decent living. As money is paid back, it's used to buy more land for other farmers, and the cycle continues. It's just one of the organization's programs in 30 countries that address hunger.
  The Christian Reformed World Relief Committee buys materials to rebuild homes after natural disasters in the U.S. Wolfsen was among the volunteers who worked with agencies to build homes after Hurricane Katrina.
  Wolfsen hopes that his trip will bring attention and money to both causes. The evening before he left Fremont, Mich., the first of June, a community gathering kicked off his departure. Wolfsen sees himself as an emissary going from "one community to another community to help a third community."
  "I call the Co-op my unity tractor," Wolfsen says, noting he made his living as an International Harvester implement dealer.
  When restoring the tractor for the trip he put in a larger engine, upgraded some parts, and added a roll bar, roof and side curtains (shower curtains). It easily travels 30 mph with the camper, and he mapped the trip out to make about 150 miles a day traveling for 5 hrs.
  His website includes his planned itinerary from June 1 through Aug. 15, as well as information on how to donate. He'll also write updates and post photos on his Tractor Dave Facebook page.
  "I had no thought of doing this," Wolfsen admits. "It's the hand of the Lord at work."
  Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dave Wolfsen, 6110 Lakeview Dr., Fremont, Mich. 49412 (tractordave@rocketmail.com; www.tractorrideacrossus.org).

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2011 - Volume #35, Issue #4