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A snowplow sprays salt on a Minnesota highway in the Twin Cities Metro area.


A snow plow gets ready to salt a road in the Twin Cities Metro area.


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Shakopee church continues nonprofit partnerships during holiday season

St. John’s Lutheran Church in Shakopee is continuing its work with multiple nonprofit organizations this holiday season.

The church currently helps host operations and events for Loaves and Fishes, Shakopee Community Assistance and Toy Corner.

The Rev. Gary Kinkel said St. John’s began partnering with Loaves and Fishes in January 2020. Since then, Loaves and Fishes has served a meal out of the St. John’s location four nights a week.

Teams of volunteers come together on these evenings and help prepare hot meals for people. Kinkel said the church would ideally like to increase meals to five days a week in the future.

During the pandemic, people have not been able to eat meals inside the church. St. John’s has overcome this hurdle by having people drive up to the church’s side doors and tell volunteers the number of meals needed.

While St. John’s helps Loaves and Fishes year-round, the church looks forward to the preparation of Christmas meals around this time of year. The St. John’s team is helping Loaves and Fishes plan a Christmas meal this week, with dishes like ham and potatoes.

Kinkel said St. John’s has typically served around 60 people a night through Loaves and Fishes, but numbers have increased to 90-100 people a night in recent months. He said working with Loaves and Fishes has been a great way to help out those in need.

“Our task is to take care of them, to feed them and to do what we can so their lives aren’t quite so hard,” Kinkel said.

COMMUNITY ASSISTANCE

St. John’s also began working with Shakopee Community Assistance around the same time as Loaves and Fishes.

Clothing items, coats, hygiene products, diapers and other products are currently stored in the church’s basement and Sunday school rooms. People are able to visit St. John’s and pick up these items for free with no questions asked.

Kinkel estimates around 50 people a day participate in the Shakopee Community Assistance program to pick up items they need.

On the first Monday of every month, Shakopee Community Assistance also gives away free groceries that people can take home and prepare.

Kinkel said it is encouraging to have the church providing location space and volunteer assistance to all of these programs.

“I think the community should be aware of the work that’s happening here,” Kinkel said. “I am privileged just to be adjacent to the work the groups are doing and to try to make a space for them.”

TOY CORNER

Providing shelter was an important aspect of St. John’s partnership with Toy Corner, a group that provides toys to children. Kinkel said he received a call a few months into the pandemic from someone at Toy Corner. The individual explained they no longer had their building space in Savage and asked if St. John’s would potentially have room for them to run operations out of the church.

Since summer 2020, St. John’s has provided space for Toy Corner, in addition to the other two programs.

Although these organizations have their respective staffs, many members of St. John’s volunteer to help the groups and provide donations. For anyone wanting to get involved, St. John’s encourages Shakopee citizens to drop off donations like food, clothing and toys at the church.

Kinkel said the overwhelming support is indicative of people living out the values they’re taught in church.

“I think it means people are responding to God’s call,” Kinkel said. “It’s just a tremendous opportunity to do the things that we talk about here all the time and to make ourselves available.”


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