Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Neighbor helping neighbor in Zumbrota October 27, 2020

The grain elevator complex in Zumbrota, a busy place especially during the fall harvest. Minnesota Prairie Roots file photo October 18, 2020.

TOO OFTEN THESE DAYS, I feel discouraged by all the discord in our country, by the selfishness and lack of care for others.

But then I discover something that lifts my spirits and reaffirms my belief in our goodness, our ability to help one another, to think beyond ourselves and our needs to those of the people around us.

This is the story of such a discovery. Of goodness and kindness and care for those we call our family, neighbors, friends. Or strangers. And this I found in Zumbrota, a small town about a 45-minute drive east of Faribault.

On a recent Sunday afternoon drive through the Zumbro River Valley of southeastern Minnesota, Randy and I stopped in Zumbrota for a picnic lunch, or what was supposed to be a picnic lunch. The weather, only in the 30s and blustery, proved too cold for outdoor dining. We opted to eat in the van while parked outside the public library.

“Heritage of Promise” by Jeff Barber. A third sculpture of a child is not included in this photo.

Directly in our line of vision stood a sculpture of children near a structure, which I soon determined to be an artistic interpretation of an historic covered bridge on the other side of the library. I planned, upon finishing my sandwich, grapes and protein bar, to photograph the art and then we would be on our way.

Some of the words inscribed on the sculpture. In the background, you can see the historic covered bridge.

On any other day, Randy and I would walk across that aged bridge to the park, explore a bit while stretching our legs. But the weather was just too darned cold. I hurried to photograph the sculpture as my fingers numbed.

The Community Cupboard and the Zumbrota Public Library designs both mimic the historic covered bridge nearby.

Once done, I walked back toward the van, only to notice a Little Free Library next to the public library. I found that odd.

As I drew closer, I found I was mistaken. This was not a LFL but rather a Community Cupboard—a source of food and hygiene products. Free for the taking.

The message thereon invites those opening the door of this small structure, designed like the nearby covered bridge, to TAKE WHAT YOU NEED, LEAVE WHAT YOU CAN. Baby formula. Snacks. Dried legumes. I didn’t poke around to see all of the contents.

Rather, as I photographed the Community Cupboard, I felt a sense of gratitude for this “Sharing Our Saviour” food outreach of Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church. I thought of the many times Jesus fed the hungry of body and of soul. And how thankful I am that churches and nonprofits and so many others help people in more ways than we will ever know. This lifts my spirits.

TELL ME: How do you or your community or church (or whatever) help individuals and families in need? I’d like to hear more uplifting stories.

© Copyright 2020 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

6 Responses to “Neighbor helping neighbor in Zumbrota”

  1. Sandra Van Erp Says:

    This would not work in the metro. So, churches organize. Our church partners with WA County Resource Center for Thurs. meals which, to my great surprise, includes all, not just the needy. Apparently it works, it was in place when I changed churches (yet again) in 2015. It has been the last few years the emphasis on COME! join in community and families do. Past years it moved inside to the gym, slowly the various programs have been returning meeting the guidelines. I have no doubt any day I’ll see a notice for Thursday’s going forward. We’ll only get through this a day at a time. Keep hope, Audrey! Details here https://www.saintandrews.org/community-resource-center

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    These are very common -sometimes called Blessing Boxes- around our area. I am helping with another fundraiser on November 7th. This time it will be food and toys so we are pretty excited about it.

  3. Jackie Hemmer Says:

    Our church has one of these boxes outside near the church entrance. There are always people who are in need, so I often head to “Trader Joes” and fill my shopping cart to take the good to the church. Our church also has an inside “Food Pantry” that the congregation keeps stocked for when someone stops by in need of some food.


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