By Julie Krienke
DELANO, MN From diapers and bicycles to clothing and furniture, the items that Love INC of Delano gives to local people seeking assistance seems endless.
Love in the Name of Christ-Heartland is a national nonprofit organization whose goal is to meet the needs of families in communities throughout the country.
According to Terri Harris, executive director of Delano’s Love INC, the organization started in Holland, MI, in 1977.
“The man who started it was a social worker,” Harris said. “He saw there was a lot of resources in the churches that weren’t being applied. He saw a vision of pooling the resources.”
Because of this, Love INC became affiliated with local churches, combining the assets of each one to better serve local citizens.
On the national level, Love INC is in 30 states, with 153 locations throughout the country. Currently, the headquarters of the organization is in Minneapolis, and there are eight locations in Minnesota.
Love INC opened in Delano in fall 2005, after receiving a nonprofit status and registering with the national program.
According to Harris, the first office was located near Dairy Queen and was very small. As a result, Love INC staff began searching for a new location.
“We started praying that God would expand it,” Harris said. “He did it just in the knick of time. We were looking at this place in May of 2007, and that’s when the wheels started turning.”
Even though it took quite awhile to get the plans approved with both the Love INC board and the City of Delano, Harris and the rest of the staff continued moving forward.
In February 2008, Love INC of Delano moved to its new location on Railroad Avenue.
“God blessed us with twice the store and office space, and the additional bonus gift of the warehouse,” Harris said.
According to Harris, Love INC of Delano partners with 21 churches throughout the communities of Delano, Independence, Watertown, Maple Plain, Montrose, Rockford, Howard Lake, Waverly, Greenfield, Corcoran, Mayer, and Loretto.
By partnering with churches throughout the local communities, Love INC is better able to pool resources together and help those in need. According to Harris, it takes six denominations to start a Love INC within a community.
“When we started, we had the six churches,” Harris said. “It pretty rapidly blew to 13, and bit by bit, churches approached us to be a part of it. The body of churches makes up Love INC.”
The churches that serve the local Love INC all provide volunteers to fuel the program. Most work done by the national Love INC is completely volunteer service.
“We want to have enough ministries to make sure there are significant needs being met by the churches,” Harris said. “We want plenty of people to help.”
Some of the local churches that are involved in Love INC are St. Mary’s Catholic Church of Waverly, St. John’s Lutheran of Howard Lake, Delano United Methodist Church, and Maple Plain Community Church.
There is no doubt that Love INC has received a great deal of support when it comes to volunteers. According to Harris, everything within the Delano location is free except four workers.
“The amazing thing about this place is that everything is donated,” Harris said. “Our general contractor said if you don’t believe in miracles, you are standing in one. We started with a budget of zero, and we came in under budget.”
Harris explained that the local Love INC was started entirely by private donations, the support of surrounding churches, and one grant for equipment.
According to Harris, last year alone, 1,400 people from churches throughout the local communities volunteered with Love INC. Each church has a ministry that they specialize in to better meet the specific needs of local people.
“All these churches have different ministries,” Harris said. “The churches get involved by donating things, and then people from the churches want to come in and volunteer. It is a gargantuan amount of man-power.”
Love INC serves all community members who need assistance meeting their needs. When people call in, volunteers verify the need and then send in the ministry that is relevant to the situation.
“Our first core value is everything we think, say, and do is love in the name of Christ,” Harris said. “We like to help folks because they feel better when someone loves them.”
“For me, it was a definite calling to be involved in the ministry,” Harris said. “I think it’s exciting to see the people in the communities put their love to practice and reach out.”
According to Harris, once the need is verified and met, Love INC attempts to create relationships between the individual and the church. In addition, the help does not stop once the need is met, as the Love INC staff continues to pray for the individual.
“We just try to be Christ to each other and look at people with the eyes of Christ,” Harris said. “I guess my greatest joy is to give opportunities to people to get together and put their faith into action.”
The thrift store of Delano’s Love INC works through the donations of individuals throughout the surrounding communities.
According to Cheryl Mckown, one of the store managers, clients who are kept on account at Love INC receive clothes from the thrift store for free.
“That part is ministry because it helps those in need,” Mckown said. “There is also the piece where anyone can get clothes. The prices are really low, and there is a dedication to excellence in what we put out there.”
According to Harris, the thrift store at Delano’s Love INC is similar to a Goodwill. Currently, the store is open five days a week, with hours Monday through Thursday from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. until noon.
Volunteers fuel this portion of Love INC’s mission by donating their time and effort into ensuring all items in the store are of good quality.
“I volunteer because it’s rewarding,” Irene Psyk said. “It just makes you feel good to see all the people we are helping. It’s also great people to work with.”
It is clear that volunteers at Love INC get personal satisfaction and fulfillment by dedicating their time to this organization.
“People want to be part of something that’s good and successful, where they can feel significant and make a difference,” Harris said. “By the whole community getting involved and pooling resources, it makes it possible for us to keep up with the need.”
Love INC has certainly kept up with the need, as each year the national movement helps over a million people.
“There are so many ways that people in the community can help by donating their time, donating financially, or to the food shelf,” Harris said. “I see nothing but growth in the need.”
Harris encourages people to donate food because there is always a need at local food shelves. The local Love INC partners with five food shelves throughout surrounding communities.
Love INC hosts several fundraisers throughout the year to raise money for the organization. Many upcoming events are new this year.
A summer clearance bag sale will take place during the month of August. Prices for bags will be: $10, Aug. 12 to the 14; $7, Aug. 16 to the 17; and $5. Aug. 18 to 21.
A huge back to school bash will take place Wednesday, Aug. 25, and donations are needed to help those children in the local communities who are in need of school supplies.
Those who wish to donate school supplies are encouraged to drop them off at Coborn’s of Delano or the Love INC office by Monday, Aug. 23.
A golf tournament at Wild Marsh Golf Course in Buffalo will take place Thursday, Sept. 16 to raise money for Love INC. After the tournament, the staff of Love INC will host a dinner at the golf course.
According to Harris, a new fundraiser will take place Saturday, Oct. 30 in which all churches in the ministry camp out for one night.
“It is a huge fundraiser for us,” Harris said. “People can be at any of the churches to sleep out and show their unity for people in need.”
In addition, plans are being made for an Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill and Bar pancake breakfast in September or October. Church members are encouraged to attend any Love INC fundraisers.
Love INC is inviting people to get involved in the organization and support their local communities. According to Harris, Love INC has already made a substantial mark in the surrounding area.
“The people are blessed, the churches are blessed, and the community ignites and wants to be a part of it,” Harris said.
The staff at Delano’s Love INC has high hopes for the future of the organization in the local area. Harris will continue to encourage local citizens to get involved, which will hopefully expand the organization.
“We allow the people in the pews to really live out their calling as Christians,” Harris said. “It is always someone else and somewhere else where there are people in need.”
For more information on the local Love in the Name of Christ-Heartland organization, visit www.loveincheartland.org or call (763) 972-6547.