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.
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 email@example.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.”
Christmas on the Prairie is making its return to Wahoo this holiday season.
This year’s theme is Christmas in Nebraska, and the 28th annual event is being held from 2-8 p.m. Dec. 2 and 3 at the Saunders County Historical Society Museum, 240 N. Walnut St.
Christmas on the Prairie is a family event that includes free refreshments and admission. Children will have the opportunity to make ornaments and decorate cookies, along with participating in various other activities, released information says.
This year’s Humanity Nebraska speakers are Sara Brandes Crook with the “Nebraska Underground Railroad,” and “Statehood, by the life and times of Peter A. Sarpy,” portrayed by Darrel Draper.
Various musical performances will take place at the church and main museum during the two-day event. Wood carving, rope making and other crafts will be demonstrated throughout the grounds, and antique machinery will be displayed in the machine shed along the award-winning 1939 Packard Hearse.
There will be a quilt show that features quilts made by Saunders County quilters, as well as demonstrations held by various needle artists across the street in Union Bank’s upstairs area.
“Local people really enjoy bringing in the quilts,” said Erin Hauser, museum curator. “Some are old, and some are new, just being made within the last year. Normally, we have 50-70 quilts, and they can do whatever they like with them. There is no theme or anything like that.”
While attending, people are encouraged to visit the six decorated historical buildings. The depot will have a model train display, and the Memphis Post Office again will offer a special Christmas cancellation stamp, while also providing people a chance to mail cards.
More than 25 decorated Christmas trees will be part of the festivities in the main museum, released information states. In addition to historical tools and other activities, a raffle, silent auction and bake sale will add to the fun.
Throughout the two days, tours will be given of the Howard Hanson House. Hanson grew up in Wahoo and won a Pulitzer Prize for his musical work.
“This is a fun time because there is something for everybody and a whole lot to see,” Hauser said. “It’s a fun family event that doesn’t cost anything, and we are hoping for another great turnout.”
A change in scheduling means MainStreet Fremont’s Annual Christmas walk will feature a full day’s worth of family friendly events this year.
This year the annual event was moved to today, instead of being held on Friday night, to coincide with Small Business Saturday and to avoid competing with the Huskers annual Black Friday football game.
“We kind of talked about it the last couple of years,” Hayley Fisher, MainStreet Fremont board member, said. “The Nebraska game always kind of took over the event, so we decided to make that change with it being a later game this year.”
This year’s event begins at 7 a.m. with coffee and drink specials at the Blue Bottle Coffehouse and continues until 10 pm. With Milady Coffehouse offering viewing of a Christmas movie from 7:30- 10 p.m.
“Families have more time from 7 a.m. to 10 o’clock at night to pick a variety of activities that they can attend,” Fisher said. “We were so limited with a 5 to 8 timeframe before, this can really broaden the clientele that can come down.”
The Christmas Walk will feature and abundance of food and other activities for families to enjoy at a variety of participating businesses.
The Fremont Area Art Association will have several activities geared towards children at 92 Gallery West.
“The art association is going to be doing a craft with kids, face painting and storytime from 11 to 1,” said Barb Tellatin, FAAA exhibits committee member. “Mrs. Santa also will be there with cookies.”
The gallery will then be open the rest of the afternoon for visitors.
Santa’s reindeer will be available for photos. The reindeer will be located in the parking lot at Sixth Street and Park Avenue from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The annual Festival of Hope Tree Silent Auction which benefits The Bridge will be on display from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Abe Krasne’s Home Furnishings.
Musical performances, store discounts, cookie decorating and yoga also will be part of the festivities, as well as a scavenger hunt and tree decorating at the Junktion Flea Market.
Participating businesses include Blue Bottle Coffehouse, Abe Krasne’s Home Furnishing, Sampters, Buck’s Shoes, Milady Coffehouse, First National Bank, First State Bank & Trust, Charmed Market/Interiors Plus, Blue Yoga Studio, Sassafras Bakery, The Gardener, PB&J Welding, Don Peterson & Associates, Nancy’s Boutiqe, Polymath Cyber Café, Mythic Affinity, Kohlmeyer Passageway, Wise Olde Owl, Fremont Area Art Association, Junktion Flea Market, and Keep Fremont Beautiful.
A full list of events can be found on MainStreet Fremont’s website mainstreetfremont.org.