Our Town Norfolk: Orphan Grain Train

NORFOLK, Neb. – Orphan Grain Train is a Christian volunteer network that ships donated food, clothing and medical supplies around the world.

This humanitarian aid mission got started 25 years ago in Norfolk.

Back in 1992, a Norfolk pastor named Ray Wilke volunteered with a group of Lutherans who traveled to Latvia and Russia to help with a church mission.

What Rev. Wilke saw on that trip changed his life forever.

“Just thinking about all these things, things running down my cheeks because of the conditions that all these people lived in across this vast country," Wilke said.

The desperate people that Rev. Wilke encountered begged him to help them.

"I had a conviction in my head that I couldn't go home and do nothing."

Upon his return to Norfolk, Wilke contacted Clayton Andrews, who was the owner of a worldwide transportation company named Andrews Van Lines.

"He'd been looking for something more meaningful than what he'd been doing his whole life," Wilke said.

The two made a formidable team and together they started sending giant care packages out to the world in need.

“First we shipped 4 or 5 containers that year and now we ship 240 a year."

After dedicating his life to Orphan Grain Train for more than two decades, Clayton passed away in 2016 at the age of 96.

"I just look on that map and I say wow, here we are in Norfolk, Nebraska and we're being asked to help someplace on this incredible atlas to bring aid," said Vice President of Orphan Grain Train Grant Schmidt. "Since Pastor Wilke started this in 1992, Orphan Grain Train has had over $3,000 shipments worldwide."

97 cents out of every dollar that is donated goes straight to their mission.

The world is most certainly a better place because of the spirit of love and compassion that can be found at Orphan Grain Train in Norfolk.