MILLERSVILLE, Md. — On a sunny, crisp morning, volunteers at the Maryland branch of Orphan Grain Train (OGT) load up a truck with boxes headed to the Christian Appalachian Project.
"This shipment will be toys for Christmas," said Elfie Eberle.
Eberle is the founder of the Maryland OGT branch and a long-time volunteer with the non-profit, which has locations throughout the U.S. She served as the branch manager until 2020 and now works as its solicitation director.
"We are a faith-based organization and we seek to help the needy," she said. "That’s what God calls us to. He blesses us to be a blessing."
The OGT warehouse in Millersville is filled top to bottom with donations like school supplies and desks, clothing and medical equipment. The volunteers load the donations into massive containers, usually 40 to 53 feet long, and ship them to places both locally and around the world like South Sudan, Liberia and Cameroon.
"These are people, they’re our sisters and brothers. We may never see them here but we’re all in this together and we need to help each other," said Eberle.
Faith is what guides Eberle, the volunteers and the mission behind OGT. The volunteers say Eberle really put their faith to the test 13 years ago, when she proposed the idea of combining their five smaller donation sites into one warehouse.
"And I said 'Elfie, we have $800 in the bank,' and she said well, let’s pray on it. And we did," said Ron Phipps, a volunteer.
"And in 2016 we dedicated this building," said Irene Giguere, another volunteer.
"It’s a miracle. It just happened. I can’t explain how it happened but it happened," said Phipps.
"When people come to our warehouse and see what we’re doing and hear what we’re doing, they want to help us," said Eberle.
The power of prayer may have helped secure the warehouse but volunteers say it is the power of Eberle that keeps the OGT operation running smoothly.
"As the follow-on branch manager, I sort of stand on her shoulders on the things that I do. She’s the foundation on which this warehouse has been built," said Bruce Coonradt, the branch manager.
"Elfie quite frankly is the leader, she is the inspiration for us," said Phipps.
With each container that leaves the warehouse, Eberle knows she and OGT have helped more people live a better life and that fulfills her life.
"Often people say to me, Elfie it’s wonderful what you do. I get much more out of this than what I give. This is a place I can use my abilities to help others and it’s just so satisfying, so completely satisfying."