The net cast by the Low Income Ministry of Dodge County is a wide one.

In 2016, the organization served 14,666 households in Dodge County, as well as those encompassing a 15-mile radius around Dodge County.

This number of people served is fairly typical, Executive Director Lyndsay Osborn said during a Wednesday interview with the Tribune.

People utilizing the Low Income Ministry of Dodge County use numerous services, including: a thrift store open to the general public, case management services, box fans during the hot summer months and a food pantry.

In addition, since 1993 the organization has hosted annual campaigns to collect school supplies for students in Dodge County whose families may struggle to provide some of the bare necessities needed in the classroom every fall.

“We want kids to come to school prepared to learn,” Osborn said. “And we don’t want kids to feel singled out if they show up to school the first day without having some of the other things that kids are bringing — the things that they are supposed to be bringing.”

This year’s school supply campaign began Saturday and runs through the last day of August. All school supplies are donated, Osborn said, noting that some of the biggest suppliers of school supply items are area churches, retired school teachers and Hormel Foods Corp.

Each year, approximately 200 backpacks filled with an assortment of school supplies are given during the summer months to students in need.

The backpacks and school supplies included within them are all grade appropriate — students all the way through 12th grade can receive a backpack and supplies.

Schools encompassing Dodge County release a list annually telling the Low Income Ministry what students will need, and this is released to the people who gather the supplies, Osborn said.

No proof of income is required to pick up a backpack for a student. The vast majority of people who utilize this service don’t abuse it, Osborn said. People wishing to pick up a backpack are encouraged to stop by the Ministry, 549 N. H St.

Many people are very humbled by the generosity of the Fremont community and LIM.

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“School supplies can be very expensive, and if you have multiple children in school it can all add up in a hurry,” she said. “This can really help people save a lot of money.”

In addition, after the school supply drive ends, many of the leftover school supplies go right back to the schools to use in their classrooms. This means that Dodge County’s school districts directly benefit from this drive, too.

Hosting the school supply drive directly ties in with what LIM is trying to accomplish.

“What we are trying to do is empower people to help sustain their lives,” Osborn said. “So by easing the financial burden of not having to purchase these school supplies they are able to free up money to maybe pay some bills, or buy their kids clothes. It all just really helps.”

Anybody wishing to donate school supplies is asked to drop them off at LIM.

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