Babs and Laverne Wheeler are engaged in a grassroots mission, devoted to making food available to those in need.
In November of 2008, Babs and Laverne read a newspaper article (read the newspaper article written about the Wheelers here.) about the plight of Minnesota’s up-north food shelves whose surrounding areas were stressed to meet the needs of their many constituents. Always with a heart to help the poor and disadvantaged, the Wheelers decided to host a Christmas dinner.
“Yeah for fun, but also to raise some money and provide food for a food shelf on the Iron Range,” said Babs. “It was a great success on all fronts, especially for the food shelf director who accepted it.” And then, lo and behold, there came another invitation to dinner. Then another. And another.
What evolved was the idea – and its implementation – to commit to holding simple dinners each month for a year with one caveat to attendees: they must bring a bag of groceries or write a check. The Wheelers planned a new stop every month, hosted these dinners, then headed up north with the bounty.
People kept coming, not to every dinner, but to many of them, and passed the word to others as the mailing list grew. The fellowship was rich and the food tasty! And every month, Babs and Laverne sent out a heart-warming report of the trip, photo and all, and an invite to next month’s dinners.
In her first year report to everyone who had contributed, Babs wrote: “The food totaled 4567 pounds and the money $7605, which was a tremendous amount of ‘help’ in all of the communities to which it was given. All the food shelves that you supported through these dinners have been in Minnesota’s north where food shelves are the most needy, according to the food banks. Not only are they needy, there are many more people who are jobless or in low paying jobs, which means few people have anything to share with local food shelves. Several food shelf directors have reported that people who used to give sometimes now need to get. But ‘reporting’ would not be complete without telling you how much it means to shelf directors that people they don’t know, nor never will know, give so generously to people so far from their own communities. Most of the directors are as long on years as they are on their willingness to give hours and hours a week to distribute food to their neighbors who have real and major needs. One director knows the community so well that she ‘drops’ bags of food to people who she knows have serious needs and can’t come to get food or are too proud to ask.”
One year became two, then three. After a while, people attending the dinners started to think about helping those in need during the course of their daily life. One day, Babs got a call wondering if they could dispense 800 pounds of squash if the caller could pick it up. It didn’t talk long for someone else to suggest gleaning corn and apples.
As of October, 2012, the Wheelers have delivered 23,790 pounds of food and $48,379 to Minnesota’s northern food shelves! If you know Babs and Laverne, you know they have delivered much more – words of encouragement, a hug and a handshake, and this endless stream of humor and good cheer because they love the people for Christ’s sake.
Want to help? Contact Babs and Laverne at firstname.lastname@example.org
Babs and Laverne’s story is another example of those who are engaged in mission outside the walls of Colonial. Their story has inspired Bill Hughes, who nominated them for the piece. (Click here to learn more about our “Engaged in Mission” initiative or to nominate someone to have their story told.)