Area youth give back through food collection

By Anna Jauhola
The holiday season can bring great joy along with great struggle.
The Cornerstone Food Pantry in Hallock provides a reprieve to those who struggle through not only the regular ability to provide everyday food but giving food baskets for Thanksgiving and other holidays.
Numerous organizations often hold fundraisers or food drives for the pantry to help throughout the year. The week of Nov. 11-15, the Kittson Central National Honor Society (NHS) held a food drive and got grades kindergarten through 12th excited to contribute.
“We just really wanted to do something bigger than just little things,” said Shelby Pankratz, senior NHS member. “We decided to do a food drive and thought it would be helpful to do it with the elementary to collect more items.”
The goal was to collect 500 items – nonperishable food, personal hygiene, cleaning supplies – and with that goal came a promise that Thrivent Financial would donate $500 to the pantry to purchase perishable items.
“So, we actually raised 721 items. We are very satisfied with that,” Pankratz said. “We averaged 150 items a day.”
She said the drive really brought out students’ caring and giving sides as they watched the items pour in each day.
Monday was canned goods, Tuesday was breakfast items, Thursday was snack items, and Friday was cleaning and personal hygiene products. Wednesday, students collected as much change as they could and brought it to donate toward the cash donation. They raised about $300.
“That was a good day!” Pankratz said.
For the week, NHS students created a turkey-tracker board, similar to a thermometer, to show how many items had come in thus far.
And the reactions were priceless.
“People were looking at that turkey every day. Some of the little kids were like, ‘Oh, the turkey moved!’ or ‘Oh, where is he now?’” Pankratz said. “It was so cute. I loved seeing that.”
Youth at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church in Hallock also helped out the food pantry by collecting food items, specifically for the Thanksgiving baskets. Courtney Olsonawski, parent organizer, said she and her sister-in-law, Karen Gubbels, helped organize the collection.
“People brought in items each Sunday,” Olsonawski said. “We sent an email out to parents and some families brought individual items, some brought all their items in one week.”
She hopes the collection helped the Sunday school students understand the need to give and help those in their own community. Although it is confidential who uses the food pantry, Olsonawski said she hopes the children realize there is a need even in small communities.
“I feel like I want my own kids to learn about things we can do for people who don’t have as much,” Olsonawski said.

KITTSON CENTRAL NATIONAL HONOR SOCIETY students organized and led a food drive the week of Nov. 11-15 to collect food and other items for Cornerstone Food Pantry. The students collected 721 items, beating their goal of 500 to get a $500 donation from Thrivent Financial. Pictured are, back row, l-r, Marlee Turn, Morgan Hanson, Morgan Olson, Zach Pastir, Tamara Cadieux and Alyssa Wiese; Front row, l-r, Judy Shuck, Cornerstone Food Pantry representative, Shelby Pankratz and Lauren Klein.           (Photo submitted)

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