Editorial: Tribune Thumbs

Published 8:50 pm Friday, July 8, 2022

To the efforts underway to bring a freedom rock to Albert Lea.

Thank you to the Albert Lea American Legion Riders, who are fundraising to bring a freedom rock to Freeborn County. 

Freedom rocks originated by artist Ray “Bubba” Sorensen II with a large 12-foot-tall boulder in southwest Iowa near the small town of Menlo, Iowa. 

In 1999, Sorensen painted a simple “thank you” to veterans on the boulder and has continued to honor veterans by donating his time for new murals on this boulder every May for Memorial Day, drawing in people each year to see what he has created. 

In addition to this boulder, Sorensen felt compelled to do more and set out in hopes of every county in Iowa having a freedom rock of their own. He has also painted a handful in Minnesota, including Kasson. 

The images Sorensen paints on the large rocks vary by county and typically depict local veterans or themes important to each county.  

We are excited about this opportunity and know that these rocks not only go a long way in honoring area veterans, but they also serve as a tourist destination. 

We encourage people to support the fundraising efforts of the Legion Riders to make this a reality.

To the people and organizations helping in flood cleanup in Albert Lea and the area.

Thank you to the Salvation Army, the American Red Cross, Freeborn County Emergency Management and others who are assisting area residents affected this week by flash flooding. 

A storm that came through the area on Tuesday brought between 5 and 6 inches of rain in a short period to Albert Lea, leading to temporarily flooded streets and some water in basements. 

A few basements even had foundation walls give way, leading to further problems. 

We thank those people and organizations who are helping those who suffered damages this week, whether it be offering cleanup guidance, physical labor or simply a helping hand. 

Every little bit helps.

To the efforts to address food insecurity in the area.

Thank you to the United Way of Freeborn County and others who have been a part of starting the new Welcome Pantry, which opened for a distribution this week in mobile form at the Albert Lea Armory. 

According to Feeding America, 9.5%, or 2,900 people, in Freeborn County face food insecurity. It could be anyone, including your own friends and neighbors, many of whom are foregoing paying other bills to be able to buy groceries. 

The goal of the Welcome Pantry is to provide a safe space for people to come to get food. Organizers hope the space can be welcoming for all and can help reduce the stigma that comes with people asking for help. 

It will utilize research from people who have gone to food shelves in the past and work to empower those individuals, allowing people to walk around and shop for their own food, choosing foods their families like and that meet their dietary restrictions. 

Organizers hope to eventually open a brick-and-mortar location that will be available to be open some nights and weekends. 

We think this is an exciting opportunity for the community, and we hope community members with the means to do so will support this cause now and into the future.