Champions of Hope: Ordinary People. Extraordinary Acts.

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June 16, 2015 By: Sara Blair - Senior Communications Coordinator Category: SHH News Tags: Give to the Max Day, Food & Fund Drive, fresh produce, volunteering, end hunger

Every day, ordinary people make extraordinary contributions to help others in our community. They are volunteers who use their skills and expertise to help streamline our productions; community leaders who help distribute fresh produce in high-need areas; and retirees who organize fundraisers to help raise dollars for and awareness of hunger relief in our community.

Meet 10 Minnesotans who are changing the world, one inspiring act at a time.

Team TAKA Walk to End Hunger Fundraising Group (shown above):
One of the leading fundraising teams for Walk to End Hunger—raising funds on behalf of Second Harvest Heartland for six years. Since 2009, Team TAKA—comprised of family and friends—has grown the size of their team and donations raised beyond what they could have ever imagined.

“We support hunger relief because everything in life starts with access to food—nothing is possible without it. Our family focuses a great deal of our giving on basic needs such as food and shelter. The Walk to End Hunger is a simple and easy thing many in our group can do to give thanks for the abundance in our lives and give back to help those in need.”

Jerry Elfert:coh jerry elfert photo
Retiree who volunteers one day a week to help maintain Second Harvest Heartland’s donor database.

“When I retired I decided to do something to help others rather than sit around and watch television. I started volunteering with Second Harvest Heartland by helping repack food, but wanted to do something more substantial. Since I have a background in computers, the database support position appealed to me. I have been doing this for just about three years. My wife and I are thankful for the life we have and have always believed in helping others in need. The more we give, the more we receive!”

Kathy Stack:
Devoted mother, grandmother and community advocate for health, hunger relief and educational causes. A loyal donor for 18 years, Kathy chose to include a gift to Second Harvest Heartland in her will.

“I saw a Second Harvest Heartland newsletter with a story about a mother and her four-year-old son. The caption said, ‘This mom won’t eat today so her son can.’ That was all the motivation I needed to become a monthly supporter and to include Second Harvest Heartland in my will.”

Christa Edlund:
Kindergartner teacher who allows her class to participate with Give to the Max Day fundraising promotions every year. She uses this as an opportunity to teach her class about hunger and community service.

"When I first started teaching six years ago, I set out to find a way my students could serve others in our community. It was hard to come up with something meaningful for 5 and 6 year olds to do, but I eventually reached out to Second Harvest Heartland. Their facility is close to our school and many of the families at our school are the recipients of Second Harvest Heartland’s generosity. Our work with Give to the Max Day promotions has helped fill a big need for my class. I think that giving kids the opportunity to perform service is just as important as anything I am teaching them and leaves a lasting impact."

Dave Sorenson:
Volunteer who helped improve and streamline Second Harvest Heartland volunteer productions with “LEAN” principles and culture—a team-based method of workplace improvement that focuses on identifying and eliminating non value-adding activity and creating efficient work flows.

“After volunteering at Second Harvest Heartland, I was so impressed with how much work they’d done to create the best volunteer experience. Still, I saw some areas that could be easily improved with their help. I showed them how they could apply “lean” thinking to streamline processes, and then the team went to work and implemented many of those changes. Volunteers are now able to be more efficient and effective with their efforts. Since founding my company I have felt prompted and compelled to give back to the community—I’ve been blessed in so many ways and know that there are many less fortunate who can be and are helped by organizations like Second Harvest Heartland.”

Dale Craig Memorial Volunteer Group:coh dale craig photo
Group consisting of the late Dale Craig’s mother, family members, friends, co-workers and neighbors who volunteer at Second Harvest Heartland every week in his honor.

“Dale always believed in helping others in whatever way he could. He was always thinking of others and after speaking with many in our group, we felt that helping locally was the perfect thing to do, not only to bring us together, but to help those who are less fortunate. It’s an amazing way to spend a few hours together, have fun, and know that others will not go hungry due to the time we spent helping.”

Pastor Steve Lomen, at St. Olaf Lutheran Church in North Minneapolis:
Runs weekly, year-round fresh produce giveaways in North Minneapolis, with fresh food from Second Harvest Heartland. The produce distributions began as a response to the tornado that struck this neighborhood in spring 2011, and he has actively incorporated innovative ways to meet the continuing need ever since.

“After learning this past summer that 93 percent of students at Patrick Henry High School in North Minneapolis—where my kids attend—are enrolled in free and reduced lunch, I knew I had to do something. I have a passion for healthy food and the impact it can have on communities in center cities, and after the 2011 tornado displaced so many people in North Minneapolis, I had a calling to help feed my community healthy food.”

Brandi Brozzo at Fridley Walmart:
Walmart employee who collects Retail Food Rescue products from all departments, processes all the donations, and makes sure we get as much food on our trucks as possible—all while doing her everyday job of running the store’s back room.

“In the past, I've had to use a food shelf myself—I understand how hard it can be to make ends meet. I know there are so many more people out there in need, and I’m glad I can help to get our quality donations out the door and into the homes of those who need it.”

Gary Fitch:coh gary fitch photo v2
retired postal worker and Vietnam veteran who founded the Minnesota Miracle—a 30-day, 300-mile walk from International Falls to White Bear Lake that raised $37,000 for a permanent endowment to support hunger relief in Minnesota.

“The endowment I set up is going to be there forever—and anyone can donate, at any time. I’m doing my best now to keep raising money to help it grow. If I live to be 90, funds contributed to Minnesota Miracle will have provided 450 million pounds of food to food shelves in Minnesota.”

Summit Brewing Company:

Local brewery that collects food donations as part of its free brewery tours.

“Everyone who books a tour of the Summit Brewery is asked to bring a non-perishable food donation to support Second Harvest Heartland. We’re always amazed at the amount of food our guests bring with them; nearly 13,000 pounds of food were donated last year. It has been very rewarding to have guests and supporters know about our partnership with Second Harvest Heartland immediately upon arriving for a tour—guests frequently comment on their delight that we are using our popular tours to bring in a great amount of donations."

Feel like you have extraordinary contributions to make?

Well, now’s your chance! Volunteering in the community makes a huge impact on the lives of those in need. View opportunities here.


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