The residents of Devils Lake and the entire Lake Region are widely known for their generosity and giving. They are also known for working together to help when there is a need.

The residents of Devils Lake and the entire Lake Region are widely known for their generosity and giving. They are also known for working together to help when there is a need.

A perfect example of both is the Stuff-A-Truck food drive that has been helping residents of Ramsey County for over 13 years. Leevers Foods North and South have partnered with the Hope Center and Central Middle School to bring help to local families during the holiday season.

As the holiday season approaches, imagine if you were unable to provide adequate food for your family.  A feast at Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Year’s, like most of us enjoy, is just a dream to many families who live in Ramsey County.

One of the ways you can help families in the Lake Region have a little brighter holiday this year is to give to the Stuff-A-Truck program, which kicks off Monday, Oct. 17 and runs through Nov. 13 at both Leevers Foods locations.

This is the 14th year of that holiday program of giving. In 2011 through Stuff-A-Truck they collected 1,850 lbs. of food and over $3,490 in cash donations, but according to Dave Brustad of Leevers South, they doubled that in the years following that thanks to their partnership with the students of Central Middle School.
In fact Brustad gives the Central Middle School students credit for the tremendous increased success of the program and hopes for future growth.

“They have taken this on as a challenge among the classes at CMS - a Prime Time competition - and last year they filled more trucks than ever,” Brustad said. The 2015 Stuff-A-Truck campaign provided 4,166.5 pounds of donations.
The Hope Center is the source for emergency food assistance program for the community. The Hope Center Board and volunteers remodeled a portion of the former Eagles building located 313 3rd Street NE, west of Nellie’s Bar and now they operate the food pantry for the community of Devils Lake and the Lake Region - all of Ramsey County.

What can you do?
Between Monday, Oct. 17 and Sunday Nov. 13 you can  drop off non-perishable food and toiletry items at either Leevers locations or make a cash donation at the register when you’re going through the check out.

Brustad said,  “One hundred percent of what is given stays in the Lake Region.”
Hope Center volunteers recommend the items needed at the pantry include boxed dinners like macaroni and cheese, canned soups, canned vegetables and fruit, canned meat, chili, tuna and tuna helper, instant potatoes and gravy, spaghetti noodles and sauce.

Hovde also says toiletries are also needed, such as deodorant, diapers, toothbrushes, toothpaste, toilet paper, feminine hygiene products and things like that.
She pointed out that of the 11,000 people in Ramsey County approximately 12.1 percent live below the poverty line and need some help either on a regular basis or occasionally.
In September 2016 271 households were served - the highest number so far! This includes 294 children, 314 adults and 90 seniors over age 60. The total persons served - 698.

Flagged, pre-bagged
Brustad said items will be “flagged” throughout both Leevers stores to assist customers who aren't sure what to buy and they will also have pre-bagged groceries available to purchase and donate.

Cash, too
Cash donations, too, are always welcome, Brustad says. When you go through the check-out just ask the checker to add on a $5, $10 or $20 donation to Stuff-A-Truck.

But, Brustad stressed, the items do not have to be purchased at Leevers.
“The food products can come from anywhere — your home pantry, another store — it doesn't matter as long as it's not out of date, opened or damaged,” he said.

Brustad said he is excited the campaign is getting under way and he hopes it goes as well, if not better than in past years.
“It's something Leevers has taken very personally,” he said. “We look forward to it each year.”

A large bin will be placed in the front of each Leevers store and donations can be made any time during business hours.
“Devils Lake is so good about having benefits to help folks out when they are in need. When Stuff-A-Truck rolls around, it’s our turn to help,” Brustad said.

For more information about the Hope Center go to www.hopecenterdevilslake.com or on Facebook at /hopecenterdl or hope_center@icloud.com for e-mails.