NAA Auctioneers donate sewing machines

In the mountains of northwest Haiti, John Kruesel, an Auctioneer from Minnesota, wandered around an outdoor market where hundreds of nearby villagers came twice a week to sell, trade and barter their wares.

Recruited by a medical mission group, Kruesel, a mechanic by trade, had come to Haiti in 2003 to help repair a village’s only mode of transportation, a Vietnam-era M35A2 six-by-six cargo truck.

That day at the market, Kruesel made his way through piles of tattered clothing, single shoes and other mismatched items when he spotted an old treadle sewing machine. The machine, he learned, was the only one for miles, and villagers used it to piece together scraps of fabric to make clothing.

“Here in the United States, we were throwing these old sewing machines away,” says Kruesel, of John Kruesel’s General Merchandise & Auction Co. in Rochester, Minn. “In third-world countries, these are one of the most valuable commodities.”

When Kruesel returned to the U.S., he could not shake the memory of the astonishing poverty or of the single treadle sewing machine. As an Auctioneer who specializes in antiques and unusual items, Kruesel had seen numerous treadle machines over the years.

Operated by foot, treadle sewing machines became antiques with the advent of electricity. Old treadle machines frequently show up at auctions and sell for next to nothing. Sometimes, they are taken apart and used for parts.

So Kruesel decided he would begin collecting treadle machines and send them to poor regions of third-world countries, where electricity is a rare luxury. As he spread the word among Minnesota Auctioneers, machines and money soon began trickling in.

Since that trip in 2003, Kruesel has sent about 100 treadle sewing machines and 200 early electric, non-computerized sewing machines to Haiti. The early electric machines helped start a school in Port-au-Prince, the country’s capital and largest city.

Sewing machines also have gone to Cambodia and Kenya.

Learn more about the effort in Auctioneer magazine



Filed under Auction Industry, Auctioneer magazine, NAA Members

7 responses to “NAA Auctioneers donate sewing machines

  1. Madeline

    I have a sewing machine in a wood cabinet that I would like to donate. I live in Denver.

  2. Cheryl Kenny

    I have a treadle sewing machine that I would like to be donated to Haiti. I live in Northern IL. and wondering how I would get this to you.
    Thank you

  3. Hi every one

    UNITY IN DIVERSITY FOUNDATION (UDF) we are based in Tanzania as Non Profit making organization. We are highly in need of sewing machine more that 5000 sewing machines are needed here. The sewing machines are providing direcly employments to our people hear in Africa. Please if you have a sewing machine pleaase contact us through

    P.O.BOX 6404
    Skype Herman.Longo
    Telephone +255 784 212573
    +255 767 212573
    +255 658 212573

  4. Christina J. Thom

    Our church has a sister church,in Haiti, with student that walk a mile up hill to go to school. They need a treadle sewing machine how does your program work?

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