Karina Munoc waited in a fold up chair near the entryway of Hosanna Church in Shakopee, gripping a white slip of paper with a number scribbled on it. Her young son sat to her left as several other families trickled in, bringing with them the beads of sweat on their foreheads and the aroma of brats from the grill outside.
A small girl struggled to fit her mouth around a brat as she skipped into the warehouse, clutching onto her mom’s hand. The pair exchanged a voucher for a number card and took a seat next to Munoc.
“Thirty-two!” a voice called.
Munoc quickly rose from her seat and met her designated volunteer, a grinning woman holding a clipboard and checklist, donning a red T-shirt that read “Serving communities in need.”
Every first and third Tuesday of the month, HEART Ministries of Hosanna Church opens up their 25,000 square-foot warehouse for just under three hours. The warehouse is packed floor to ceiling with brand-new home goods, clothing, food and appliances donated by large retailers and local businesses.
Several nonprofits in the area vet the families for their needs and then distribute vouchers to them, which the families can then bring to HEART’s giveaway nights. When their number is called, a family is allowed 20 to 30 minutes to shop and two large items, like a kitchen appliance or piece of furniture.
Munoc has been coming to HEART’s warehouse for more than three months after she heard about the ministry from a friend.
“I like it because it’s close and gives me furniture for the house,” Munoc said. “I think it helps the community — sometimes, people don’t have money to buy something, and then they can look here and find something they need.”
Many of the visitors, like Munoc, are Hispanic and speak little or no English. HEART provides numerous Spanish-speaking volunteers to guide them through the warehouse and help them find what they’re looking for.
After weaving through an intricate maze of aisles and racks, Munoc leaves with a smile and a cart filled to the brim with clothing, household items and a new Keurig.
‘Blessed to be a blessing’
HEART Ministries was originally formed as Hosanna Church’s response to Hurricane Sandy, which devastated the East Coast in 2012. Completely volunteer-led and staffed, the ministry began building their warehouse in 2015 when they got connected to an organization called Good360, which allowed them to pay an admin fee while receiving returns and overstock items from various stores. HEART started out receiving items from about three stores, then eventually nine. Now, they are up to 30.
HEART Ministries Director Tony Caterina said they’ve traveled to more than 20 disasters since Sandy, the largest being Hurricane Harvey in 2017. Twelve teams have traveled to Texas to rebuild houses and assist the community over the past 18 months, bringing with them 42 semis filled with materials.
“We still do a lot of natural disaster work,” Caterina said. “We do about 75 percent of our stuff locally and about 25 percent natural disaster.”
In 2016, HEART sent a team to Eureka, Missouri after a catastrophic flood left major damage and financial loss in its wake. Nearly all of the affected homes were without power and in need of breaker boxes, an item Caterina said at the time HEART had never received before. Two days later, three palettes of breaker boxes were delivered to the warehouse with no explanation.
“To this day, we’ve never gotten breaker boxes, but God knew exactly what those people needed,” Caterina said. “These kinds of things happen all the time.”
Multiple areas in HEART serve unique purposes. The local construction team may help out a single mom in Shakopee who needs her bathroom remodeled but can’t afford it. The special events team might host a cookout for the thousands who come out to watch the Battle of the Badges in North Commons Park. And the warehouse team serves more than 80 local families a month who are in need of basic household items.
HEART Warehouse Lead Andrea Hinrichs remembers a young boy who arrived at the warehouse one night with only a pair of socks covering his feet. She made sure he didn’t leave without sporting a brand new pair of shoes.
“I personally receive more than I give, I feel,” Hinrichs said. “To be able to see the smile on people’s faces for something that we take for granted like a toaster or an iron… it just brings such joy to them.”
Caterina and Hosanna Campus Pastor Aaron Davitch also recently met with Shakopee Police Chief Jeff Tate, resulting in HEART purchasing $1,000 worth of bike helmets and car seats for the police department to disperse among community members. Davitch said they are also looking to collaborate with police in covering up spray-painted graffiti and vandalism throughout Shakopee.
Caterina is quick to point out that HEART is about showing, not telling. While he will eagerly welcome a conversation about faith, he says their goal has never been to force their beliefs on every person who steps foot in the warehouse.
“We’ll talk to them if we need to, but we’d rather show them the real Jesus,” Caterina said. “We’re blessed to be a blessing, and God has just given us a ton of stuff. We don’t care who you are. If you need something, you’re coming in those doors and we’re going to treat everybody the same.”
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