Long-distance boaters Greg and Susan Costa have been docked in Holland for nearly two weeks, but they are making a memorable impression.
The Costas are on the Great Loop, a long-distance boating trip of 6,000 miles. Along the way, every 10 days, they anchor in a community for a "day of donating" called Loopers Care.
“We are a middle-aged couple who are just having a blast with this and decided to do charity along the way,” says Susan, whose 35-foot boat, "Lucky Me," is docked at the Ottawa Beach Marina for maintenance.
The couple posted a request on a Holland Facebook page for recommendations of local nonprofits. After reviewing many suggestions, they selected Resilience: Advocates for Ending Violence
, Hope Pkgs
and Shields of Hope West Michigan
as the beneficiaries of their donations.
Local boating friends Rick and Rhonda Spykman offered to match Greg and Susan's donation, and together the couples purchased more than $375 worth of items on the Resilience shelter’s wish list.
Hope Pkgs is a Holland organization that provides first-night supplies for children entering the foster system. In her research, Susan says she learned that many children who go into foster care aren’t able to take any of their belongings because of health or safety reasons. As her donation to the organization, she spent roughly $400 to buy 12 backpacks and fill each with pajamas, underwear, socks, and sundry items.
‘Day of donating’ projects
She was able to do the shopping for this “day of donating” because they had rented a car during their visit, which isn’t always the case.
“When we started this the very first time in 2019, our first Loopers Care donation went to the Coast Guard because it was during the government shutdown and they weren’t getting paid. We were docked in Charleston, South Carolina, and we found out where their building was, and we brought pizza and soda for everyone,” Susan says.
The donations in Holland are the Costas’ 39th, 40th and 41st projects. The cause can be just about anything; the only requirement is that it’s given through a nonprofit and directly benefits the community they are visiting.
Greg Costa gives Sherry Martens of Resilience a donation for a women's shelter. Local boaters Rick and Rhonda Spykman donated items on the nonprofit's wish list.
“We typically don't do two of them, but because our friends from the Loop are matching our donation, we picked two. Typically, it’s one day and one organization,” Susan says.
Their Loopers Care projects have ranged from cleaning a public beach in Florida to paying for lunches for members at a senior center in Canada.
The couple’s 2010 boat gives them a special connection to the community. It is made by Holland manufacturer Tiara Yachts. The Costas took a tour of the yacht maker’s plant during their last visit in 2019.
The Lucky Me is registered in Mount Hope Bay, Rhode Island, and the Costas have a retirement home in North Fort Myers, Florida.
This is their second time doing the loop, and they plan to leave this week to head to Chicago, where they will follow rivers south, eventually ending up in Mobile, Alabama.
About 500 boats take part in the Great Loop each year, although fewer than one-third finish the trip, which can take a year or longer. The Costas spent 18 months completing the loop their first time, but this time plan to do it in six months. Along the way, they are stopping to donate to local nonprofits that serve the community.
The couple has written a 64-page e-book, Cruising the Bahamas with the Lucky Me
, about their boating experiences, which they give away at their stops. So far, over 17,000 copies have been distributed.
The couple says they hope to return to Holland again.
Until then, you can follow the Costas' adventures aboard Lucky Me in this Facebook group.
CFZH awards nearly $450,000 in grants to meet increased need for services