Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 31, 2003

Students double goal for food shelf

By Lynda Jensen

More than 800 pounds of food is stacked in a room at the St. John's church in Howard Lake, destined for the Wright County Food Shelf, courtesy of the seventh and eighth grade confirmation classes there.

Crackers, ketchup, cookies, canned vegetables, Jell-o and baked beans ­ the assortment is growing as the young people busy themselves to make one last push between now and Easter Sunday to bust their goal for food shelf items and financial donations.

What exactly is their goal?

Well . . . it changed a bit, said Tony Ecklund, parent and confirmation guide.

Originally, the students set a goal of 800 pounds of food, but when they reached this with 865 pounds of food, they decided to keep going, rather than quit.

"They were overwhelmed by the response," commented fellow confirmation guide Tom Hammer. Cindy Heuer is the third confirmation guide.

Now, the students are shooting for twice their original goal, or 1,600 pounds of food, Ecklund said.

This comes as good news to the food shelf, which is constantly in need for a variety of items, commented Shirley Legatt of Wright County Community Action.

The usual fare is welcome, such as pancake mixes and syrup, refried beans, or other items ­ as long as they aren't past the expiration date, because it's illegal for the food shelf to disburse it, Legatt said.

The food shelf recently received macaroni and cheese that was date 1999, she said. They can't use this, she said.

For now, they have plenty of canned vegetables, she said.

Suggestions for food shelf items include the following:

· paper products such as toothbrushes, toilet paper, and facial tissues.

· hand soap, shampoo, and bar soap. They also accept laundry detergent, but greatly prefer small boxes of it that can be stacked, not bottled detergents, she said.

· ketchup, mustard, salt and pepper. These items are always needed, Legatt said.

· Tuna or Hamburger Helper.

· powdered juices such as Tang or Kool Aid.

This is being helped along by anonymous donors as well, since 21 cases, or 270 pounds of food, suddenly showed up at the church a week ago Sunday, Ecklund said.

Money to be matched two-to-one, in more ways than one

The students are also gathering cash donations for the food shelf, Ecklund said.

This is extra helpful because the WCCA is able to buy products on a matched basis with the state, which means for every dollar collected, two dollars are raised.

Aside from this, there are members in the church, including seventh grade Sunday School teacher Nancy Deiter who have pledged to match dollars for pounds of food collected.

Students are also looking for financial donations. Currently, the students gathered $2,100 for their goal, which is $3,500.

Those who are interested in helping them may send donations made out to St. John's Church at PO Box 307, Howard Lake, MN 55349.

Since the need always outweighs the resource, Legatt encourages any other organization interested in gathering food shelf items to call her at (320) 963-6500.

Those interested in dropping off items may do so at the Waverly WCCA, located near the village hall building, Monday, Wednesdays or Fridays from 8 a.m. to noon.

For bigger drops, she is willing to make appointments, she said.

Volunteers are always welcome, Legatt commented.

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