BALDWIN, Wis. (WCCO) – A western Wisconsin widower has spent his retirement collecting old cars.
Harvey Hielkema, of Baldwin, Wisconsin says his real estate career gave him good fortune, but he was called to use his hobby to help those less fortunate.
“It runs like a top!” he said, pointing to his turquoise ’57 Chevy.
He has a Corvette that runs like new, and a 1917 Model T Ford, just to name a few.
“My mother in law was born in 1917, so that made it a good reason to buy it,” he said.
Hielkema’s clocked more miles than his prize collection combined, and while there’s no stopping him at 77 years old, he’s decided to move in a new direction.
“I was reading a book called ‘Crazy Love, God’s Crazy Love’, and it talked in there about orphans, where 20,000 to 25,000 die a day because of starvation,” he said.
Hielkema thought back to his five mission trips to Malawi, Africa, where he built schools for orphans. He’s headed back to Malawi in July.
“They got so little and they are so happy, such a joy to be with those children,” he said.
That’s when Hielkema listened to a message, roaring louder than any engine.
“I just heard the Lord tell me,’ hey, you don’t need all that stuff out there in your shed, just looking at it, there are kids starving, you sell it and give it Feed My Starving Children,’” he said.
So, he tallied up his seven vintage cars, ten old tractors, and one unused Amish horse buggy and soon will auction off anything with horsepower.
“It’s hard to part with but when you think about all those children starving to death, it’s not hard to think about it,” he said.
Hielkema also thinks about his wife, who died a few years ago.
“She would be happy,” he said with a laugh.
Happy and proud a treasured hobby would take a backseat to a more cherished cause.
“I’ve got four kids, and nine living grandchildren, I’m blessed, they are so wonderful to me,” he said.
A world away, suffering children may never know such abundance, but Hielkema is certain change begins with the most classic model of kindness.
Hielkema said his collection is worth $70 thousand to $80 thousand, but hopes to raise at least $100 thousand off his collection.
Feed My Starving Children says that would pay for more than $300 thousand meals and says a meal costs just 22 cents.
The organization will use Hielkema’s donation to conduct a “Mobile Pack” meal event in Baldwin, Wisconsin, where volunteers will put together meals on site.
You can see all the cars and tractors for sale, along with directions to the auction on May 30 here.