On a sunny, snowless Wednesday afternoon Fleet Farm was full of heroes.
The “Shop with a Hero” program has been a Christmas staple in Fergus Falls for eight years. It has drawn representatives from the ranks of the Fergus Falls police and fire departments, the Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office, Ringdahl Ambulance and the Minnesota State Patrol in past years. The idea has been to pair emergency personnel with children to shop for holiday gifts.
Wednesday’s gathering was not the usual pairing of after-school kids with heroes. In response to COVID-19, youth director Lynne Verhaagh of the Fergus Falls Area Salvation Army thought better of bringing 30 after-school program participants to the annual shopping spree.
She was not alone. Other participants contacted her to ask if the shopping event was going to happen.
“I said lets go ahead with it anyway,” Verhaagh said.
All the presents gathered at Fleet Farm by the heroes were checked out and then brought to the Salvation Army’s toy store. The store will be visited by parents who pick out toys, clothing, family games, winter wear, a turkey or ham and a voucher to purchase food at Service Food.
Verhaagh said the Shop with a Hero event helped 684 kids have a merry Christmas last year.
“I expect that number to be higher this year,” Verhaagh said.
In addition to Verhaagh, Salvation Army lieutenant, Anthony Nordan, and Maj. Jerry O’Neil, was on hand for Shop with a Hero.
Verhaagh also credited the work of Shannon Riggle of the Fergus Falls Police Department.
A Fleet Farm rep gave her thanks to Cargill of Wahpeton, North Dakota, and the Thrivent Office of Fergus Falls for donations.