By Gabe Licht
HOWARD LAKE, MN Love In the Name of Christ Heartland is growing.
The Delano-based nonprofit will add a new location at 801 Highway 12 in Howard Lake in early 2016.
“People may think we’re closing the Delano office, and that’s not true,” Director Terri Mills Harris said. “We’re adding to the ministry in Howard Lake with the gift of this building.”
For more than 20 years, the building built in 1878 as a hardware store housed a thrift store.
It was owned by Pat and Molly Von Oss. Following Pat’s passing earlier in the year, Molly opted to donate the building to Love INC Heartland.
“It’s our largest donation ever,” Mills Harris said of the building that measures 12,000 square feet over three floors.
The main floor will house a furniture ministry.
“We’ll have larger furniture and thrift store items here,” Mills Harris said.
Conveniently, the basement level has a garage door, making it ideal for donation intake and sorting.
Offices and a call center will occupy the upstairs level.
With the new location, comes a new opportunity to partner with Wright County Community Action.
“We’re partnering with Wright County Community Action to get food security, to increase the amount of food available to families in need,” Mills Harris said. “We know we’re partnering, but we don’t know what it will look like.”
Mills Harris is excited about the new space and how well-received Love INC Heartland has been in Howard Lake.
“We’re so pleased with how the community has been welcoming us,” Mills Harris said. “I said for years God’s going to give us a building with visibility on Highway 12. I just didn’t know it would be in Howard Lake. He’s expanding the ministry.”
About Love INC
Love INC is a national organization that a social worker in Michigan founded in 1977.
“The social worker realized there were resources in churches that could help people in need,” Mills Harris said.
Love INC matches those resources with people who need them.
“Anyone with a need can be referred to us and call in,” Mills Harris said. “We’re the first call for help. For example, if someone in your family gets cancer or kidney disease, it’s good to call us. What Clearinghouse Coordinator Lori Bergh does is know what all the resources are. A lot of times, you don’t know. This is what we do all day, every day.”
Starting Jan. 4, 2016, all calls will be directed to Bergh in Howard Lake.
Love INC Heartland works with more than two dozen churches throughout the area to serve those in need.
“We have 26 local churches that work together to volunteer at Love INC Heartland and make it work,” Mills Harris said. “We try to have small, manageable opportunities to volunteer to reach out and show God’s love. Our mission statement is to mobilize local churches to transform lives and communities in the name of Christ.”
Each church is involved in a different part of the ministry. For example, one church runs a “lullaby ministry” that provides diapers and other baby supplies.
“When I get a call, that goes to the person facilitating that ministry,” Bergh said. “It’s up to the individual churches how they distribute items. Many ministries deliver to their homes.”
A thrift store is a vital part of the ministry. Families in need can receive clothing and/or coat cards to shop at the store. Mills Harris noted, however, that anyone can shop at Love INC thrift stores, with the proceeds used to run programs for those in need.
Love INC Heartland also has a program to help families become more self-sufficient.
“Part of what we do is help people so they don’t need us anymore,” Mills Harris said.
How to help
“We need people to donate thrift store items,” Mills Harris said.
Individuals in and around Howard Lake can take their items to the new location, while donations are also accepted at 318 Railroad Ave.
Love INC accepts financial donations; furniture, including from estate sales; cell phones; ink cartridges; laptops; household items; baby gear, but not car seats or cribs older than 2011; diapers; and personal care items.
A truck is needed to pick up and move furniture and other items.
Volunteers are needed to pick up furniture, answer phones, and help with other tasks.
Love INC Heartland will also be hiring two store managers.
“We want people with the heart of Jesus and people with maybe retail marketing and managing experience,” Mills Harris said.
With the support of the community and churches, Mills Harris believes the new location will be successful.
“When we opened the Delano location, we started with a budget of zero and came in under budget,” Mills Harris said. “We’re hoping to do the same thing here.”
“We can open a thrift store, but what’s God really going to do out here?” Bergh added. “We don’t know what the potential will be.”
Visit www.loveincheartland.org or call (763) 972-6548 for more information.