by Dennis Dalman
For many months, they have provided food, comfort items and – just as important – hope to COVID-positive households in quarantine, to families where a father had lost his job, to single mothers whose work hours have been cut back and to homeless families housed in motels.
“They” are the numerous donors and many volunteers of Sartell’s Celebration Lutheran Church Community Free Store. They’ve been helping area people in need since the COVID-19 pandemic began almost one year ago, and they are still working hard because the need for help continues.
Those ongoing needs are why Community Free Store volunteers are requesting more donations of food, comfort items and gift cards. For how to help, see the bottom part of this story.
Responses from grateful recipients of the help have been overwhelming, according to one of the founders/organizers, Jessica Lundsetter. She posted some of those responses on the CLC Free Store website:
“I just want to let you all know how much I appreciate all the food and extras you helped us with. I have never had to use a service like this so it was really hard for me, but times are a struggle right now with being out of work for a month. Again thank you so much” – single mom with two teenagers.
“A neighbor reached out on behalf of their Somali neighbors. She said they were too scared to ask for help. We delivered some food and cleaning supplies. This is what their neighbor messaged us after the delivery: ‘They cried over food, and we made rice together.’’’ – a Free Store volunteer.
“I’m overwhelmed! You made my day! A good that has come out of this is the group you’re in. Kind, generous people like you helping others in need that you don’t know, expecting nothing back but the person be OK and happy . . . God is surely watching over you and others and saying, ‘Well done.’ He is surely blessing you.” – a “Grandma” who received a mask, raspberries, bread, cat food, cleaning supplies and puzzles.
The CLC Community Free Store takes its service motto from The Bible: “For I was hungry and you gave me food; I was thirsty and you gave me drink; I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” – Matthew, 25:30.
How to help
On its website, the CLC Community Free Store lists suggestions on how to help. People can purchase food and/or comfort-items kits. The items can be placed in cardboard boxes or large paper bags and delivered to the lobby of Celebration Lutheran Church during open hours: 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Thursday; 9 a.m.-noon Friday or during online worship service at 9 a.m. every Sunday.
The website can be accessed at: www.celebrationlutheranchurch.com. Scroll down to CLC Community Free Store. Then click on “Click HERE for a full kit shopping lists.”
The site includes a list of 10 kits for which people can purchase the products and bring the products in with notes to personalize the kits. Donors are also given the option of including one or more gift cards.
Sample kits include:
Breakfast Kit for Kindness: 1 box of pancake mix, 1 bottle of syrup, 1 box of cereal, 1 box of oatmeal, 1 package or 2 cans of fruit cups, 1 jug of juice.
Pasta Meal Kit: 2 packages of noodles, 2 jars of pasta sauce, 2 pounds of hamburger.
Personal Care Kit for Comfort: toothbrushes, tube of toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, bar soap, 4 rolls toilet paper, 1 box of tissues, 1 hand sanitizer.
Baby Care Kit: Pack of diapers, pack of baby wipes.
Another way to help is to send a check donation to Celebration Lutheran Church, 1500 Pinecone Rd. N., Sartell MN 53677. Please write “Free Store” on the check’s memo line.
If you or someone you know is in need of food or everyday care items, contact the CLC Free Store. Call Jessica at 320-255-0488, ext. 109. Or email CLCstore@CelebrationLutheranChurch.com
All are welcome to receive items. No questions asked.