by Dennis Dalman
The Free Community Store that Celebration Lutheran Church members in Sartell started a couple of months ago has been so successful and so needed that it’s being inundated by requests for help.
The volunteers of the store are requesting donations (see end of this story to find out how to give).
During the past three weeks, the store volunteers have done 70 food-and-care-products deliveries and/or curbside pick-ups.
Last week, the store volunteers delivered packages to 18 families and to Good Shepherd Assisted Living Apartments. Store volunteers learned about a blind woman who’d had her bottom teeth removed and needed soft foods. The store delivered, and the woman was very happy. Another two deliveries went to a single mother of five children, ages 3 to 11. Volunteers were greeted with a loud happy chorus of “thank yous.”
The store started when church members set up a table on church property stacked with free food and care items for people to take free. Others would bring items to drop off on the table. The generosity was so remarkable that volunteers started storing all the contributions inside the church’s large lobby area.
Agape Ministries donated fresh-food items to the Free Community Store three times, and all the items were needed within 48 hours. There is now a waiting list, but Walmart gave a monetary donation to help out.
Jessica Lundsetter, one of the store founders and volunteers, said curbside pick-ups of donated items has now equaled the amount of deliveries to people in need.
One day Lundsetter was buying gift cards at Walmart and was short about $14. A woman in line behind her gave her the money and told Lundsetter she’s read about the free store online.
The volunteers and Celebration Lutheran Church have received a blizzard of emails and notes from grateful people.
Just three examples:
“Everything was delivered and is perfect! Thank you so much again.” – A family with three kids.
“I want to let you 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.
“Thank you. This week was my first week back to work around people. Masks all around. I had to leave my babies. We had a family friend commit suicide last week after struggling with his mental health for many years and not being able to cope with the loss of his job. Prayers welcomed.” – A mother.
There are three ways to donate food and care items.
• Drop them off outside of Celebration Lutheran Church’s office door in a tote marked “Donations.” The church address is 1500 Pinecone Road N.
• To have donated items picked up curbside, contact Jessica Lundsetter or Tyler Malotky at:
• Mail or drop off monetary offerings or gift cards for Kwik Trip, Coborn’s, Walmart or Sam’s Club. Send to Celebration Lutheran Church, 1500 Pinecone Road N., Sartell, MN 56377.