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Church collects food and money for Albert Lea food shelf

Ascension Lutheran Church members posted their goal and then filled it up when they received donations. - Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Ascension Lutheran Church members posted their goal and then filled it up when they received donations. – Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

An Albert Lea church congregation, given a challenge to give back to the community, has collected more than a ton of food and more than $2,000 for the Salvation Army food shelf.

Ascension Lutheran Church members and other congregations of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America were challenged to plan Sept. 13 as a day dedicated to community service. Local congregations were free to discern community needs and respond with service appropriate to local priorities, according to a news release.

Church leaders stated the members chose to assemble school kits and to have a food drive that could boost contributions to the food shelf. In the end, they raised even more than they had set out to do.

The members raised $2,368 and 2,182 pounds of food. They made 63 school kits, said member Joan Anderson.

“It’s an honor to be part of a congregation that is generous in their giving and their consideration of local needs,” said Lynda Everhard, a member of the Ascension Lutheran church council.

Diane Doppelhammer, Denise Sandager, Joan Anderson and Jane Pearson stand with some of the school bags made during the effort. - Provided

Diane Doppelhammer, Denise Sandager, Joan Anderson and Jane Pearson stand with some of the school bags made during the effort. – Provided

Everhard said members of all ages participated.

She said one of the things that drove their efforts was to know that in this part of southern Minnesota, 9 percent of people are food-insufficient, meaning they don’t have enough food.

Participants brought food items each week, and Darryl and Karen Flim toted the food to the Salvation Army each week.

Ascension youth decided to contribute $900 of their own money to go on a shopping spree to add to the total food collected.

A thermometer at the church tracked the progress to the goal.

The food will stay local, while the school kits will go to other countries.

Everhard said she hopes the project inspires the community to continue giving and maybe emulate a similar project.

The church celebrated reaching its goals Sept. 13.