Community shows support

Mary Fehring serves hot, homemade soup to those attending Operation Community Connect last Thursday at Trinity Lutheran Church.

Operation Community Connect coordinator Beth VanderPlaats said last Thursday’s event at Trinity Lutheran Church that paired community organizations, individuals and businesses with those “living on little” was a success.

“We have 40 vendors this year, which is more than we have ever had,” VanderPlaats said. “ECE is always one of the favorite ones. They give out light bulbs and talk about energy efficiency.”

Along with the free bulbs, University of Minnesota Extension’s 4-H coordinator Darla Stevens was on-hand to explain the benefits of getting involved. Key Medical provided free blood pressure checks. Various churches around Milaca donated toilet paper, toothpaste, soap and shampoo. Milaca Public Schools collected diapers and also raised $611 to be donated to the cause.

A few area salons also sent cosmeticians to provide free hair cuts.

“Sometimes it’s hard for them to leave their salons and booths,” VanderPlaats said. So more than 64 coupons were donated from Radiance, Ultra, Confidence & Co., Cuts on Central and other area business for patrons to exchange in their stores for free hair cuts.

The Mille Lacs Grand Casino was also there to distribute applications for employment. Early Childhood and Family Education members as well as Girl Scouts were available for face-painting and nails as well.

“We have volunteers from 8 years old all the way up to 70 years old,” VanderPlaats said.

Among those volunteers were the Trinity Lutheran Ladies, who prepared and served a meal of hot, homemade soup that blanketed a six-block radius with its warm, delicious smells.

When she and other organizers went to pick up and pay for tables at Milaca General Rental, VanderPlaats was told there was no  charge — they would donated the use of the tables.

“Gosh darn-it, it gives me goose bumps every time I tell people that,” she said. “I love this community.”