By Lori Mork
During this season of giving, here’s a way for your family to give back to those less fortunate by making a reverse advent calendar.
Designate a box as your advent calendar, then each day, add a food item to that box. On Christmas Eve (or maybe a day earlier), donate the contents of your box to the local food shelf.
You can also select a family or a different local charity, then fill your box with items that would make someone else’s Christmas just a little better.
If you’re giving to a private family or group, you can find out what essentials they might need, such as cleaning supplies, toys, clothing or canned food.
Here are a few statistics from our local food shelf:
More families than ever are turning to the food shelf for help, according to board members.
In 2015, the food shelf in Alexandria gave more than 685,000 pounds of food. Through August 2016, 463,850 pounds of food was distributed – 12,950 pounds ahead of last year’s pace over that same time frame.
In 2015, the food shelf helped 13,710 individuals – 4,420 of them younger than age 18 and 763 older than age 65. A total of 385 of those helped were new clients, which continues a growth of more than 8 percent annually since 2009.
Food shelf demand is on pace to increase again this year. Through August, the food shelf had already helped 9,277 individuals.
HOW YOU CAN HELP
The food shelf, located at 1205 Lake Street in Alexandria, is always looking for more volunteers or donations. It is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Monday through Thursday, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, and additional hours of 3 to 7 p.m. on Monday. For more information, call (320) 762-8411.
HISTORY OF THE FOOD SHELF
The Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf was started by the Emmanuel Episcopal Church in Alexandria in 1982. The church’s attic and later, a basement, were used to store the food before it was delivered to those in need.
A small separate building was constructed in 1985. Since then, two additions were built, along with a 24-by-36-foot garage.
A non-profit corporation was formed in 2005 to own and operate the food shelf.
The food shelf is currently in its fifth expansion project.
FOOD SHELF MISSION
The mission of the Douglas County Outreach Food Shelf is “to feed the hungry in our service area through an efficient system of collection and distribution of food to individuals while striving to preserve dignity and extending respect to all clients in Douglas County.”
Lori Mork of Lowry is a mother, grandmother and dabbler in all things food, photography and decor related.