It is not unusual for men who work in the world of big machinery to also have big hearts.

Jerome Jennen is one of those men. Jennen’s farm, 4 miles northwest of Fergus Falls at 17628 250th St., will host a benefit for people who were affected by the category EF4 tornado July 8 that ransacked farm country between Dalton and Ashby.

The benefit will raise money and provide support for Travis Hansen’s shop, family and employees and for Seth Nelson’s family.

Lunch will be provided during the benefit which is scheduled to go from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jennen is expecting a crowd of up to 300. Among the prizes will be a $7,000 tool box donated by Snap-on tools.

One of the rural sites hit hardest by the tornado was a place owned by Hansen, owner of Hansen’s Service, a business that repairs diesel engines. 

“I’ve known Travis for eight, 10 years from right out of tech school. He’s a good guy,” Jennen said.

Hansen lost his home, his shop and Nelson, one of his mechanics, when the gigantic tornado touched down about a mile southwest of his place on County Highway 82. It was only a miracle that kept him from losing another mechanic. Nate Erickson, who took shelter inside the shop with Nelson as the twister approached, saved himself by diving under a big Case tractor. When emergency crews arrived they found Nelson, a father of four, in a field near the site. Erickson was buried in rubble but he was able to dig his way out.

Jennen is been proud of the fortitude Hansen has shown.

“Can you imagine finding the place you work has vanished and then you turn around and your house has vanished? Can you imagine going through that?” Jennen exclaimed. “To lose your shop, to lose an employee, at his age he’s doing real good to be able to handle this.”

Jennen knows exactly why the benefit is important. He sells Snap-on tools and he has been working with mechanics for 34 years. 

“You get to know them and you know their life and their style and if a guy can help in a situation like this you’ve got to step up to the plate,” Jennen said.

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