The picture of need has many faces.

There’s the elderly man who fell victim to a scam and couldn’t pay his utility bill.

A football-playing college student surviving on a can of soup a day.

A grandmother trying to care for grandchildren — who recently came into her care — and another family just trying to make ends meet.

All have been helped by the Low Income Ministry of Dodge County.

To help meet the community’s need, the Holiday Food Drive 2017 for LIM is underway. People throughout the county have been finding the list of needed items in their church bulletins.

Donors can choose from a host of foods: 48 cans of tuna for $33.82; 24 cans of chicken noodle soup for $10.44; 16 jars of peanut butter for $16.79.

The donors make out a check for the amount to their church. The church then will compile all the donors’ checks and write one check with the total to the Low Income Ministry.

In 2016, the drive ended up netting slightly more than $40,000, which was used to purchase more than 15 tons of food, said Chris Leaver, an LIM volunteer, who with his family, launched the drive in 1996.

“We ask churches to make prominent the sheet of needs and we leave it up to church members to decide how they might want to contribute,” Leaver said.

Leaver’s Thrivent Financial office works with area churches to collect the funds to purchase the food in whole-case quantities at wholesale prices. The City Meat Market Grocery in Hooper then provides the food at the wholesale cost.

“This is probably the single largest food fundraising event of the year for the Low Income Ministry,” Leaver said. “Last year’s food drive helped LIM get through the whole year. It was pretty significant.”

Leaver said the bulk of the food is delivered to help replenish warehouse shelves after Christmas boxes are distributed.

“This is fresh inventory that replaces that,” he said.

Leaver credited pantry warehouse coordinator Steve Prescott with doing an excellent job.

Prescott knows the need is real. He cites the case of college staffers who contacted LIM about providing help for a student-athlete surviving on very little.

“We put together an emergency box of proteins – peanut butter, beef stew, soups,” Prescott said.

Leaver shows a letter to the LIM board of directors which details need in the community.

The letter talks about an elderly scam victim, who’d allowed others to gain access to his bank account.

An LIM case manager helped the man understand what had happened and helped him talk to the utility department since he was facing a shut off and to stop automatic withdrawals from the department. A request for help with his utility bill was approved.

Other situations include:

Help for a grandmother recently granted custody of her grandchildren. She had to move from another state to Nebraska and didn’t have any of her resources. A case manager worked with the Department of Health and Human Services and a request for a first month’s rent was approved. The case manager also provided a voucher to the LIM store to help the family with needed clothing and housewares.

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Assistance for a single woman unable to pay household bills with her own income after the sudden departure of another family member. A case worker helped the woman develop a plan for sustaining herself. The woman followed that plan by asking for and receiving more hours at her main job and getting a seasonal job so she could get ahead on her bills. A request for rent was approved.

Help for a family after the mother had to leave her previous employment due to a daycare need. The woman found a job working oppose hours of the dad, which took care of the daycare issue. The family had to wait a few weeks for the mom’s income to start. A request for help with their rent was approved.

“There’s a huge need,” Leaver said. “The need is there. The response is what we’re asked to do as Christians.”

Leaver said those who’d like to participate, but don’t have a list may stop by and get one at the Thrivent office at 340 E. Military Ave., or at phyllis.gates@thrivent.com.

“This can only be done, because we have an excellent staff,” Leaver said. “This is a ministry of our staff.”

He noted something else.

“We’d like to wrap up the food list by Sunday, but contributions are always welcome,” Leaver said.

Those who just want to donate some money may do so.

“Any donations of miscellaneous cash will be used to fill in any gaps of need (as far as food items),” he said.

This is the 21st year for the food drive and Leaver appreciates the community’s response.

“We are very grateful for the outpouring of this community in many ways,” he said. “Fremont’s a very benevolent community.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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