Land of 10,000 Stories: Classic cars and a gift for the ages

10:24 AM, Jun 4, 2012   |    comments
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BALDWIN, Wis. - Like a certain 1950s rock song, Harvey Hielkema knows what he likes.

"I like old 57s and I like my development," smiles Harvey as drives his classic 57 Chevy through one of several neighborhoods he designed and developed in the Western Wisconsin community of Baldwin.

Building was good to Harvey and one passion fed another. Crammed into various sheds on his farm sit his pride and joy: nearly 20 vintage cars and tractors, including a 1917 Model T Ford, a 1930 Model A Ford and that 57 Chevy with only 22,000 original miles.

"I love old antiques," he says. "I'm old myself."

But everything changed when Harvey picked up a copy of the spiritual book 'Crazy Love.' "I read an article in there about starving children and I heard the Lord speak to me just loud and clear that I don't need that stuff out in the shed. I should give it to Feed My Starving Children."

Feed My Starving Children is a Minneapolis-based charity that helps nourish the kind of kids Harvey has met during several trips to Africa with his church to help build schools. No longer could he live with the notion of having all that stuff in his sheds, while kids were hungry. So he called his pastor and an auctioneer.

On Wednesday night hundreds of people huddled in Harvey's farm-yard, as one-by-one each car and tractor in his prized collection was let go to the highest bidder.

"I'm going to ask everybody to give Harvey a big round of applause," said auctioneer Barry Hager at the start of the sale. Hager donated his services for the auction, as did the First Bank of Baldwin.

Giving is nothing new to Harvey. Twice each week he drives to St. Paul to serve meals at Union Gospel Mission, where he's also supplied the bread for morning toast for 17 years. "He's just a wonderful, giving, humble human being," said Harvey's granddaughter Jamie who volunteers with Harvey at the shelter.

Harvey's auction was over in a little more than an hour, raising nearly $80,000. He'd hoped for more. Chris Thompson, Feed My Starving Children's national development director, reassured Harvey, "You're basically talking 320,000 meals."

We told you Harvey loved to build. On Wednesday night he laid the foundation on his legacy.

(Copyright 2012 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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