A man and a woman load boxes onto an empty truck

We love our LWR Ingathering Key Leaders: Southern California

Lutheran World Relief collections, often called Ingatherings, are key to getting thousands of quilts and kits to LWR's warehouses for processing, packing and shipping overseas. LWR Key Leaders, the committed volunteers that manage the details of the Ingatherings, are unsung heroes of this ministry. In this series, we highlight some of those special people and the ways they make their local collections happen.

Jim Pijloo was introduced to LWR just four years ago when he took a job with Lutheran Social Services of Southern California, where a colleague was responsible for coordinating LWR collection sites at 15 churches. Jim assisted that colleague with organizing the collections in 2019, and when she left LSS the responsibility was passed on to him.

It wasn't necessarily a duty Jim was expecting to take on. Between his duties as Area Director for LSS and teaching graduate school part-time, Jim already had a lot of "spinning plates" to keep in the air. "Thank God not a single one dropped," Jim says of the days he also coordinated between the churches and the truckers who were delivering the truck trailers for the collections. Jim became a "makeshift dispatcher," sometimes taking early morning calls from truckers alerting him that a road accident or heavy traffic was going to delay their arrival at a church.  

LWR Ingatherings are God's work and purpose

Jim took the challenges in stride, knowing that he could turn to LWR staff for assistance and, more importantly, rely on God to see things through. "This is God's work, God's purpose," Jim says. He gets choked up as he reflects on how God's hand was present throughout the collections. When something didn't go right, Jim says, "We would say, 'let's pray about this.'" Jim and others helping with the collections also prayed every time someone dropped off their items, and they prayed over all the truck drivers that were hauling the quilts and kits to the LWR warehouse. 

Though another LSS colleague will take over for the 2021 collection, Jim is grateful to have been able to serve in this unique way. "We take for granted that we have a roof over our head, that we have food in the pantry," Jim says. "Doing this puts things into perspective. It's a blessing to me." 

Is God calling you? 

There are many areas where LWR Ingatherings are not happening, and some of our Key Leaders are looking for new people to whom they can pass on their duties. Do you feel called to step up? No experience or special qualifications are necessary. Just a heart to serve and a willingness to learn. 

Key Leader Sandy Miller says, "God doesn't call the qualified. God qualifies the called." LWR is ready to assist you with resources and ideas, and connect you with other experienced Key Leaders like those featured here.

"It's a lot of work…and it's so worth it. Pray, then do it!" encourages LWR Key Leader Mary Afsharirad, who heads up transportation logistics for the Texas collection sites.

To learn more about organizing an LWR Ingathering near you, contact Janel Johnson-Momanyi, LWR Quilt Kit Ministry Manager, at @email. Or contact the Key Leader of your local Ingathering if you would like to volunteer with them.