Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Help Heather thank our veterans November 7, 2011

A young boy peruses the pavers at the Rice County Veterans Memorial in Faribault on September 11.

SOMETIMES I HEAR SNIPPETS of news that truly touch me.

Take the piece I caught today about 13-year-old Heather Weller of New York Mills. For the past two years, she’s made and collected thank you notes to share with veterans on Veterans Day. She’s engaged classmates, family, friends and even strangers in her “Thank a Veteran” project.

Heather has hand-delivered the thank you notes to the Minnesota Veterans Home in Fergus Falls where her great uncle, Korean War veteran Philip Andrie, lived until his death on Christmas Day 2010.

Now, with only days remaining before Veterans Day on Friday, November 11, Heather put out this plea yesterday on her Facebook page:

I’m feeling sad… I have hardly received any Thank you e-mails yet this year. PLEASE just a quick second to e-mail a thank you! Whats a few seconds compared to years of sacrifices that our Veterans made for us?
It is important to Thank our Veterans all year around but right now I especially work on my e-mail campaign to collect as many Thank yous as possible to take the Veterans Homes for Veterans Day. Please send an e-mail thank you to veteranthankyou@gmail.com or to kristiweller@yahoo.com or leave a message on this page by November 9th. I will take the messages to Veterans Homes on Nov 11th. It so important to remind our Veterans & their families that they are Never forgotten! Thank you!

Will you help by leaving a message on Heather’s Facebook page or e-mailing a thank you note that she will deliver to veterans? Heather would like these messages by Wednesday, November 9.

Click here to go to Heather’s “Thank a Veteran” Facebook page.


Farm Rescue: Like neighbors helping neighbors

NO ONE EVER expects to need help. But then an accident happens or sickness befalls us or tragedy strikes. And we suddenly realize how much we need each other.

Back in October of 1967, neighbors rallied after a corn chopper sliced off the fingers on my father-in-law’s left hand. Not just the tips, but so much that amputation was required between the wrist and the elbow.

An Allis Chalmers corn chopper like this one exhibited at the 2010 Rice County Steam & Gas Engines Show, claimed my father-in-law's left hand and much of his arm in a 1967 accident. That's my husband, Randy, who saved his dad's life by running for help.

In the week after the accident, neighboring farmers came with plows to work the fields of my father-in-law’s Morrison County farm.  Others arrived with tractors and manure spreaders to haul away a manure pile. A week or two later, the neighbors were back to pour a slab of cement at the end of the barn.

Several farmers and a high school student continued to assist the family with twice daily milkings and other farm chores while Tom recovered and adapted to farming with his prosthetic hook hand.

Neighbors helping neighbors in need.

This fall, farmers gathered south of Lucan in Redwood County to harvest corn and soybeans on the farm of their friend and neighbor, Steve, my sister-in-law’s father who was found dead at the scene of a single-vehicle accident on September 20.

Neighbors helping a grieving family in their time of need.

Stories like this are not uncommon in rural Minnesota.

Harvesting corn this fall in southern Minnesota.

But it wasn’t until this past week that I learned about Farm Rescue, “a nonprofit organization that plants and harvests crops free of charge for family farmers who have suffered a major illness, injury or natural disaster.”

Founded in 2005 by a former North Dakota farm boy, this Jamestown, North Dakota-based nonprofit has assisted 155 farm families, mostly in the Dakotas, but also in western Minnesota and eastern Montana, the states within the organization’s coverage area.

In early October, Farm Rescue harvested beans for Renville area farmer Kurt Kramin who is recovering from serious burns sustained while he burned debris following a July 1 severe storm that passed through southwestern Minnesota. (Read a story published in the Morris Sun Tribune about the Farm Rescue assistance provided to Kramin by clicking here.) 

All of this I learned from Paul Oster, a Farm Rescue videographer. Oster read my July blog posts about the tornadic and strong wind storms that swept through southwestern Minnesota and contacted me last week about using several photos in a video he was preparing about Kramin.

Before agreeing to his request, I first checked out Farm Rescue. I wanted to assure that the storm photos my brother, uncle and I had taken would be shared with a respected organization.

My photo of the July 1 storm damage at Meadowland Farmers Co-op in Vesta which Paul Oster included in his video of Kurt Kramin. Renville, where Kramin lives, is north of Vesta.

No problem there. Farm Rescue accepts applicants from farmers in need, reviews the applications and then, if approved, coordinates volunteers to plant or harvest crops. It’s like neighbors helping neighbors.

Click here to read all about Farm Rescue and how this nonprofit truly shines at neighbors helping neighbors in need.

Then, click here to see the videos about farm families aided by Farm Rescue in 2011.

If you want to contribute in any way to this worthy organization, do. Because you never know when you, too, may need your neighbors’ help.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling