TRAVERSE CITY -- They saw a need and they filled it. And if you need a saw, they have one.
The "Toolies" at Central United Methodist Church not only have tools for you, they have the trailer to carry them. And they love loaning it out.
During a 2007 mission trip to post-Katrina Mississippi, relief workers from the downtown Traverse City church noticed ... trailers.
The group from here barely had room for the tools they needed when they got to Mississippi. Other churches had fully stocked trailers for their crews. The trailers stayed in the south; the crews came and went.
"There's often a problem with space for gear," said Bob Grigereit, one of the Toolies. "If you have a lot of tools, you don't have room for gear. It's a trade-off."
The group returned to Traverse City with a plan to buy a trailer they could lend to other groups. The church gave them the seed money for the 6-by-12-foot, two-wheel trailer, which is technically owned by the trustees of the church, who are responsible for insurance and licensing.
Grigereit, himself a minister who retired in 1999, said there's a core group of six men who take care of the trailer, including making it available to any mission team, for any project. For free.
Last year, out of 239 possible days (it's not used in the winter), the trailer was on the road for 226, Grigereit said. Seven churches that teamed up to build a Habitat for Humanity house in Petoskey made use of the trailer most of the summer, he said, but it's also made two trips to Cedar Rapids, Iowa, to help repair flood damage, and a trip to Hammond, Ind., to help clean up a neighborhood.
"I dug it out of the snow drift for its first trip this spring," Grigereit said. It was flooding in Iowa while it was still snowing in Traverse City.
The silver trailer with the church's logo in bright red on the sides is stocked with $4,000 worth of power and hand tools, ladders, extension cords, a chop saw, a table saw, Skil saws, workstands, power nailers and drywalling tools.
The group relies on donations from churchgoers and, hopefully, people who borrow the trailer, but it's the Toolies that keep everything in working order. Proceeds from a "Guy Stuff" sale at the church June 13 (see sidebar) will help keep things stocked as well.
Grigereit said they're especially enthusiastic about loaning the trailer out for local projects. "You don't have to go halfway around the world to find a need," he said. So far, it's been all Methodists who have borrowed it, he said, mainly because they're spreading the word in Methodist publications, but it's available to "any church or organization that's serving people or a community," he said.
For more information on how to borrow the trailer, call Grigereit at 946-8551 or go to www.tccentralumc.org, click on "Missions," then click on "Tool Trailer."
-- Saturday, June 13, 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
-- Parking lot behind the church, 222 Cass St.
-- Tools, camping, automotive, sports (fishing, golf, skis, etc.), yard and garden, bikes, electronics and plastic playground equipment.
-- Donations can be dropped off Friday, June 12, between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.
-- The Men's Breakfast Group is organizing the sale.
-- Proceeds will go to Boy Scout Troop 36 Camp Scholarships and Central's Mission Tool Trailer.