Volume 126, Number
Volunteering in Benson County more than donating time
BY SARA J. PLUM
Volunteer. Webster’s New World dictionary has several meanings for the noun, with all of them basically reading the same; a person who enters or offers to enter into any service or transaction of his own free will with no promise of compensation. As a verb, its meaning is to offer or give of one’s own free will without being asked or obliged.
With the recent economic downturn and the holiday season rapidly approaching, the term volunteer takes on another meaning; a person or act that helps those in need. In Benson County, the word volunteer is a way of life.
According to the Organization for National and Community Service Web site, about 61.8 million Americans volunteered through organizations in 2008. That number is impressive, but misleading, because there are millions more who volunteer on their own.
The examples in this story are primarily from the Maddock area because this writer has first-hand knowledge of some of them and access to someone who is involved in many of them.
Joann Bergrud is one of the many "go to" people in Maddock when there is a need in the community. Whether it’s raising money for a project, volunteering time to help, or quietly providing for people who do without, she can point volunteers in the right direction.
There is a food pantry at North Viking Lutheran Church that began through a loan promotion at the North Star Community Credit Union.
The catch phrase "A present for you and a present for others" urged people to bring in non-perishable food items to donate to a local food pantry. Soon the Maddock School and local churches and businesses were taking part.
With permission from the church council and a shelving donation, the food pantry was organized and made available to residents in need. This past July a partnership was formed with the Great Plains Food Bank in Fargo, a division of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, giving the food pantry access to more donated food and other items. The first shipment totaled almost 2,300 pounds of food items.
Volunteers are maintaining the food bank by sending monetary donations, dropping off items, stocking the shelves and sending in the necessary reports to Great Plains. They require no thanks, because they are just doing what needs to be done.
Volunteers are also preparing for another year of the Caring/Sharing Tree, a program that has been around the Maddock area for 15 years. They discreetly contact families who may need help during the holidays and ask if they will accept gifts for their children. If a family is interested, they provide non-identifying information and a list of what the children need or want. People are encouraged to pick a child’s list and shop for them or donate money toward food baskets for the families.
Being a park board member in a small community is a volunteer position in a way. Its members are elected, non-compensated individuals tackling what seems like a thankless job — keeping swimming pools open and baseball programs going so children have fun outdoor activities in the summer. It’s a thankless job only until they walk by the pool on a hot summer day and hear uninhibited laughter or see a huge grin on the face of a child who hit the ball right past the shortstop.
Volunteering takes place in our schools, too. Whether it’s football players reading to elementary students, parents helping with classroom parties, or organizations raising funds to benefit the students, time and talent are being given with no thought of compensation.
In Maddock the hours after school presented another need. Today’s children rarely leave school at the end of the day and have a parent waiting for them at home. It just isn’t feasible anymore. Volunteers worked to put together an after school program that provides a place for children to go. They get healthy snacks, help with homework and constructive play to keep them busy until mom or dad gets done with work.
Life for older citizens in Benson County is also made better because of volunteers. Neighbors checking on neighbors, ladies giving perms at the nursing home or someone’s home and stores making home deliveries are all things done because a need is there.
Local organizations play a big part in many volunteer projects by providing bodies, funds, food or all three. There is no question their absence would be noticed.
Two of the hardest volunteer jobs in Benson County are done by those willing to drop everything to go to the aid of their neighbor in the middle of the day or the dead of night. Being a fireman or emergency medical technician isn’t hard because of the training involved — it’s hard because the call you’re going out on will, nine times out of 10, involve someone you know. These volunteers do the job though, because there is a need.
Yes, volunteers are all around us doing the best they can to make life better "out here in the sticks."
The thing is, more are needed.
Each community has a very small group of people who seem to be involved in everything. They do so quietly, because recognition is not the reason they’re involved. They’re involved to help keep our small communities in existence.
Don’t have time to help? Make a pan of bars for the next benefit or fund raiser.
Don’t like to bake? Help set up tables and chairs or cleanup afterwards.
Too physically demanding? Offer to peel potatoes or wash dishes for awhile.
Still too much? A small monetary donation goes a long way.
Money tight? Ask if there is any way to help. Maybe there won’t be this time, but ask again next time.
Being a volunteer doesn’t mean spending a certain number of hours each week doing a certain thing. Just a little help where there is a need makes a huge difference.
The holidays can be a stressful time of year. Make your heart a little lighter, and someone’s need a little less, by volunteering whatever you can, whenever you can. Find the "go to" person in your community and ask. They’ll be glad you did. And so will you.
Shown at the food pantry in Maddock are Joyce Rasmussen, left, and Joann Bergrud, who volunteer to keep it going. There was a need in the community and steps were taken to fulfill it. "No one should have to choose between heating their home or putting food on the table," Bergrud said. Non-perishable food and personal hygiene items are available. Donations are, of course, welcome.
Bingo is one of the many fund raisers the Active Women of Maddock sponsor. Proceeds from their activities are donated to the park board, school, events center and the Maddock Memorial Home, to name a few. Wherever there is a need, local organizations in every town are there to help.
Military covenant signed
The Minnewaukan City Council approved the Community Military Covenant, which recognizes the sacrifices of members of the US military and pledges support for members of the military and their families. Acting Mayor Mark Motis, seated, left, signs the covenant as others look on. Seated, right is council member Steven Huffman.
Standing left is council member Rita Staloch. Standing right is City Auditor Deb Trnka. An election December 1 will fill the two vacant seats on the council.
Visit Leeds School
Members of the 3662nd Maintenance Company at Camp Grafton presented a flag folding ceremony for students and staff at the Leeds School November 10. Those representing the Maintenance Company were SFC Bryce Crosby, Specialist Jeff Hawn and Staff Sergeant Fields Olson. They later enjoyed lunch with the elementary students. Pictured is Sergeant Fields Olson next to third grader Caitlyn Blazer.
Musical opens Friday
Left to right are Mark Brown, Brian McGraw, Jay Bauer and Morgan Lies, members of the cast of "Cold Feet," which opens Friday, Nov. 20 at The Opera House in New Rockford. The show runs Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 2:30 p.m. until Sunday, Dec. 20. "Cold Feet" is a raucous and hilarious musical romp through the lives of four committed bachelors on the most important night of their lives at Hanson’s Bar in New Rockford. Think snow. Cold. Four guys with a bar and a band and one unspeakable secret. Along the way, they discover each others’ secrets, heal old wounds and ultimately help each other deal with their biggest fear: women. Seats can be reserved by calling 701-947-2174 or can be purchased at www.dprca.com.
Students of quarter
The Leeds High School announces its Students of the Quarter for the first quarter of the 2009-2010 school year. Students are selected for this honor based on their academic performance, cooperation, attitude and effort, student involvement and responsibility. In the front is seventh grader Julissa McGarvey, daughter of Jody and Janel McGarvey. Left to right, middle row: eighth grader Mylie Herman, daughter of Reg and Eileen Herman and senior Morgan Leapaldt, daughter of Bryan and Gay Leapaldt. Back row: freshman Seth Bisbee, son of Charlie and Tamie Bisbee, sophomore Kyle Jorgenson, son of Steve and Geri Jorgenson and junior Logan Gunderson, son of Randy and Sue Gunderson.
Compete at Rugby
Some of Aesop’s familiar fables were retold in an updated, comical way at the Leeds School. During these tales the tortoise and the hare "race" on and off the stage, their prize, the affection of Narrator #2. In the final act they finally finish the race and the tortoise wins her man. Fables included in the one-act are, "Dog and the Bone," "Tortoise and the Hare," "Lion and the Mouse," "Fox and the Grapes" and "The Country Maid." The cast of "Aesop’s (Oh So Slightly) Updated Fables" competed on November 5 at the Rugby High School. Cast members are, left to right, front row: Kayla Wangler, Hannah Anderson and Mitchel Tufte. Middle row: Mylie Herman, Chelsi Olson, Taryn Bjerke, Sadie Vallier, Shelby Jorgenson and Lacey King. Back row: Danielle Redetzke, Jacob Ebach and Clay Kitzmann.
Perform at festival
Four Leeds High School music students were selected by taped audition to perform in the 31st Annual Northwest International Festival of Music Choirs. The music festival was held November 6 and 7 at Minot State University. Those selected were, left to right, Danielle Redetzke, daughter of Donna Redetzke; Brenna Stone, daughter of Kim and Kelly King; Lauren Olsen, daughter of Bev and Rick Robinson; and Meghan Jorgenson, daughter of Steve and Geri Jorgenson.
The Leeds National Honor Society sponsors a book sale every year during the first parent-teacher conference. The proceeds from this sale go to the elementary classroom libraries. This year the Leeds National Honor Society donated $630 to the libraries in grades K-6.
Left to right are Cole Boyd, Katelyn Bingham, Allison Manley, Sloane Follman, Maliyah Bowman, Caitlyn Blazer, Logan Gunderson and Taylee Cavanaugh.
Pictured are, left to right, Jarrel McGarvey, Blake Darling, Izik Burtchell, Chynna Cavanaugh, Jacob McGarvey, Matt Swanson and Kurtis Nelsen.
Take part in festival
Minnewaukan School students Chandra Anderson and Brody Cavanaugh were chosen to participate in the Northwest Music Festival held at Minot State University November 6 and 7. The students spent Friday and Saturday rehearsing with 100 students from around the state and performed in a public concert on Saturday evening. They were accompanied by their music instructor Ms. Debbie Dyste.