Food shelf feels March drive successful

This article submitted by Michael Jacobson on 4/18/01.

The Community Service Center in Paynesville - which serves as a food shelf for the towns of Hawick, Lake Henry, Paynesville, St. Martin, Regal, and Roscoe - enjoyed a successful food drive in March.

The food drive is needed to supply the center with the food and funds it needs to help families throughout the year. "People really got involved," said center director Donna Toney. "It was really cool."

This year, over 12,000 pounds of food - more than six tons - were donated to the center. Leading the way were area churches, which donated 7,026 pounds, and the schools, which donated 4,516 pounds. Of the schools, the elementary school topped the giving with 2,148 pounds, followed by the middle school with 1,520 pounds and the high school with 848 pounds.

"Our community is wonderful," Toney said. "I'm in a pretty privileged place to see that."

The center relies on the donations from this month as the basis of operation for the entire year. Food is disbursed to people in need, and funds are saved in the bank to pay for rent, utility expense, and food supplies.

"I barely made it to March," said Toney of her supplies before the food drive. Last year, the center - with the help of ten volunteers - distributed over 43,000 pounds of food to 60 households per month.

"The majority of the clients work. They just can't make ends meet," said Toney.

A highlight of the month, said Toney, was the benefit concerts performed by contemporary Christian musician Mitch McVicker on behalf of the center. One was held in Paynesville, and the other in St. Cloud.

Toney said her motivation for the concerts was to have a fund-raising event that would give back to the community for all their support of the center.

McVicker, who is based in Nashville, enjoys the chance of spreading his spiritual mission while performing with a practical purpose. "I can't think of anything more practical than putting food in people's mouths," he told Toney.

"If you're helping to raise money for a food shelf, that's going to have real, practical implications to people. That's why I do it," he added.

His concerts raised $1,700 for the center, including $550 from the Paynesville date.

The community service center has more than food. It accepts nonperishable food items as well as clothes, dishes, furniture, small appliances, and pots and pans.

The key, though, is the items must be in good, working condition, Toney stressed. The center can't afford to tap its budget to dispose of items that can't be used. "We're entrusted to spend that money wisely and it shouldn't be on garbage removal," said Toney.

The center is open on Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. and by appointment by calling Toney at 320-243-4953. The center focuses on the distribution of clothes, household items, and furniture on the first two Wednesdays of each month and on food distribution on the last two Wednesdays of the month.

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