Caring Neighbors sharing donations from Ashby to needyPublished 11:15am Monday, December 10, 2012
Caring Neighbors is an apt name for a mission that gives local people in need hope and help, not just during the holidays, but all year round. It’s an effort of just a few who are making a big difference from Ashby.
Caring Neighbors Mission is a free store, where those in need can come in and get everything from clothes to toys to household décor and appliances.
“A single parent came in last weekend and we were able give him new toys for his children for Christmas,” said Kim Kalloff, who volunteers in the store.
Kalloff’s mother, Phyllis Torgrimson and her daughters and friends started collecting items at garage sales in Fargo about five years ago and dropping them off as a donation to the Boys Ranch.
“I would sort, launder or repair what I could,” said Torgrimson. “Then I figured, there’s gotta be people around here that need.”
A local social worker would come and pick up bags that Torgrimson had marked for whatever was in them, such as men’s clothes and children’s clothes.
Soon, Bethel Lutheran Church, where Torgrimson is a member, got involved collecting donations. Collection boxes were placed in area businesses. Donations were mounting, but Phyllis was still storing everything in her house. She took in so many donations she had to build storage shelves in her basement.
Then along came an angel.
Donna Lindermyer owns the old NAPA store building in Ashby, which had been sitting empty for some time. Donna offered the use of the store to Caring Neighbors Mission at no charge.
“I just felt like there was a need,” said Lindermyer.
Lindermyer also volunteers in the store, as does Torgrimson’s two daughters, Kim Kalloff and Christine Pralle. Kalloff drives over from Moorhead and Pralle form Horace to help with the store on weekends.
An abundance of donations started rolling in from all over the state after Caring Neighbors was featured on a Minneapolis news story.
“People drive up from the city to donate,” said Torgrimson. “An elderly couple went to the JC Penney store and bought a car load of new clothes and came up and delievered it. They said people probably have more places to get help near the cities than up here.”
While interviewing Torgrimson, a mother was leaving the store with a warm baby blanket, and David Loken and Kathy Christiansen from New Ulm pulled up with a carload of donations.
“We saw there was a need here,” said Loken.
“I called directory assistance and asked for the Ashby Visitor’s bureau,” said Christiansen. “Eventually I got to city hall in Ashby and was able to get in touch with Donna.”
Items flow out of the store as freely as they come in. There is no pre-qualification or hoops to jump through to get help.
“We try and portion out items so that people don’t take too much all at once,” said Torgrimson. “We started asking people to register their kids on a wish list so that we’d have enough toys for Christmas.”
The ladies showed off the back room where they are stockpiling toys for Christmas. While some are gently used, some are new in boxes.
“A man from Eden Prairie came and dropped off a dozen boxes of new Tonka toys,” said Torgrimson. “His dad was an iron worker in Northern Minnesota growing up, who was always laid off or on strike during the holidays. If it wasn’t for his uncle bringing toys to the family, he would not have had a Christmas. He said he wanted other little boys to have a new toy on Christmas.”
So what is on Caring Neighbors wish list?
“We can always use baby clothes and men’s clothes,”said Torgirmson. “New or gently used. But if we get anything in that can’t be used it gets recycled.”
There is a sign in the store that says “donations appreciated but not expected.” And while Torgrimson is modest about soliciting monetary donations, she concedes there are expenses such as electricity.
The all-volunteer run Caring Neighbors Mission store usually open 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. You can contact Torgrimson at 218-589-8655, or send in a donation to P.O. Box 447, Ashby, MN 56309.