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Pandemic lifelines: How to help


April 10, 2020

Contributed photo

Community Memorial Hospital volunteer Jackie Ranco has donated another 100 teddy bears to the Emergency Department for kids who are patients in the emergency room. Ranco has donated a total of 500 bears and regularly asks if the hospital needs more. Always assisting is Bob Goodin, who drives the bears to CMH. Gladly accepting the bears are Jeni Laron, Cheryl Schilla, Steve Tucker, Dr. Jeff Rapp, Stephanie Wagner, Rhonda Wolf and Etta Souder.

There are many ways to help out locally. Following are just a few.

COVID-19 Local Relief Fund

The United Way of Carlton County created an emergency fund called the COVID-19 Local Relief Fund. The purpose of this fund is to provide immediate support for Carlton County residents who need basic, everyday survival items by sending grocery cards through the mail to local families who request help.

The COVID-19 Local Relief Fund is open and accepting donations. To donate, text UWCARLTON to 41444 or visit the website. Although the office is currently not open to the public, they are accepting grocery cards through the mail at United Way of Carlton County, PO Box 250, Cloquet, MN 55720.

United Way director Ali Bilden Camps said people requesting help can fill out a short form on the website at Call 218-879-8404 if you don't have internet access.

Donate to your local food shelf

The Salvation Army operates a food shelf at its Cloquet location on 316 Carlton Avenue. While the thrift store is currently closed because of the threat of COVID-19 transmission, the food shelf is still serving people who need help.

While grocery donations to the food shelf are much appreciated, cash donations are even more helpful, because the food shelf purchases many of its food items through the Second Harvest Food Bank. According to Second Harvest, for every $1 donated, they can secure and distribute food for five meals to people facing hunger by working directly with farmers, wholesalers, packers, shippers and retail partners.

According to Joanne Lee, service extension director for the Salvation Army Northern Division, the local food shelf also needs paper goods such as toilet paper and paper towels, as well as other items in short supply since the pandemic started. Donations stay in the area where they are made, Lee said. Call 651-746-3407 to find out more about the Salvation Army's programs.

The Salvation Army food shelf is open for those in need on Tuesdays from 8:30-11:20 a.m. and 1:30-2:30 p.m. It's a drive-through service for now, and people can just pull up in a vehicle and get a box of food, plus meat and bakery products if they're available.

Moose Lake and Cromwell also have food shelf locations.

Pay it forward

Lots of folks are paying it forward at B&B Market in Cloquet. Owners John and Kim Lind are using the donations to pay for food boxes for people in need. As of last week, they'd raised over $15,000, with food going out the door almost as fast as donations came in.

Pick up

The Cloquet Community Clean Up page has the following simple steps to volunteer, wherever you live.

1. Grab a couple of shopping bags.

2. Go for a walk with family/household members.

3. Pick up trash on the road, sidewalks, walking paths, parks, parking lots etc. etc.

4. Obey social distancing guidelines.

5. Bring trash home and place in your garbage can.

6. Post pictures to social media (optional)

7. Repeat throughout the springtime.

Buy locally

Support your favorite dining establishment by ordering delivery, carryout or curbside pickup.

Volunteer or just help out

Volunteer to deliver groceries or shop for a neighbor or family member at higher risk (if you can do it safely).


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