Food drive moves closer to the goal

by Joni Astrup
Associate editor
The CAER food shelf in Elk River is edging closer to the goal for its March food drive.
As of Wednesday, March 30, a total of 79,648 pounds/dollars had been donated, according to Jenny Gray, the executive director of CAER.
The annual food drive continues until April 8. The goal is to collect 100,000 pounds/dollars.
“We’re quite close,” Gray said.
The Crossing church will make a big push this weekend (April 2-3) as it seeks to fill a dump truck with non-perishable food for CAER.
The church collected many pounds of food in a similar effort last year and hopes to collect even more this year.
“We’re trying to beat our own record just to care about people,” said Kelsey Deusterman, office manager at The Crossing.
The dump truck will be out at the Elk River campus, 829 School St. Pickup trucks to be filled with non-perishable food will be out at The Crossing locations in Zimmerman, Princeton and Big Lake.
Besides churches, schools, businesses, organizations and individuals throughout the Elk River area have been contributing to the CAER food drive as well.
VandenBerge Middle School, for instance, recently brought in 3,300 pounds/dollars it had collected.
“Their previous high goal was 1,800 so they almost doubled it,” Gray said.
Area seniors at the Elk River Senior and Activity Centers are also chipping in for the cause.
This year, in addition to the senior center’s annual CAER fundraiser and Lions pancake dinner held on March 29, a new fundraising effort was launched.

‘It tore my heart out.’
Jerry Palmer of Elk River was watching a TV program about the poor in America recently. As he listened to young children being interviewed, Palmer said, “It tore my heart out because they’re the innocent ones.”
He decided every little bit helps, and he took action.
Palmer, an Elk River Activity Center participant and volunteer leader of Smear cards, asked the Smear card group to make a donation to CAER.
From there, the idea blossomed, and became a friendly competition among participating groups at the activity center to do the same, according to Annette Bonin, senior program assistant. Staff then developed a chart to track the progress in fundraising. When one group’s column on the chart increased, other groups responded with more donations. The fun and excitement grew as the chart continued to climb, reaching a final total of over $850 donated at the 413 Proctor Activity Center, Bonin said.
When all was said and done, the collective monetary and food donations from both senior and activity center sites were $1,360 and 375 pounds of food, she said.
Palmer said CAER can get $9 worth of food for every $1 donated.
“It’s the best return you could get,” he said.

CAER is located at 19279 Watson St., Elk River. For more information, call 763-441-1020.

To read about one family helped by CAER, click here.

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