Oasis Central Minnesota to thank volunteers with open house

Oasis Central Minnesota will host an open house to honor its volunteers Friday, at the Great River Arts Center in Little Falls. Pictured are Chris Gosiak, left, and Karen Haaland, volunteers at the Ruby’s Pantry distribution in Little Falls.

Oasis Central Minnesota will host an open house to honor its volunteers Friday, at the Great River Arts Center in Little Falls. Pictured are Chris Gosiak, left, and Karen Haaland, volunteers at the Ruby’s Pantry distribution in Little Falls.

November is the time when people traditionally give thanks for the many blessings in their lives. “At Oasis Central Minnesota, the staff and board of directors are extremely grateful for the volunteers who make their programs a success and a blessing to our community,” said Board Member Susy Prosapio.

To recognize their commitment, Oasis is presenting a coffee house to publicly thank their volunteers and celebrate Ruby’s Pantry’s second year in the Little Falls area.

On Friday, November 22, community members are invited to stop by the Great River Arts Center in Little Falls, from 5 p.m. – 7 p.m. for a cup of coffee or cider and a variety of family favorite treats.

Oasis Central Minnesota offers four programs to area residents: Share A Meal, Paint-A-Thon, Fix A Home, and Ruby’s Pantry. Share A Meal celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2013 while Paint-A-Thon/Fix A Home has been serving Morrison County for 20 years. Each of these four programs is made possible by many hours of volunteer labor.

Ruby’s Pantry serves communities across Minnesota and Wisconsin by distributing corporate surplus food and goods to rural communities. Monthly distributions in Little Falls started in June 2012. In the 17 months since then, more than 2,200 guests from 24 different counties have purchased more than 8,100 boxes of food. More than 325 volunteers have given their time to make this possible. This is the type of dedication that will be celebrated Friday.

Ruby’s Pantry benefits the community in two different, but related ways. First, everyone who makes a $15 donation gets a box of food. While what a box contains varies each month, the overall value of the items far exceeds the donation amount. Second, a portion of each donation stays in the community to help neighbors and friends meet emergency needs.

Since distribution began in 2012, nearly $8,000 in benevolent contributions have assisted people with a variety of emergency needs including car repairs, payment of insurance deductible for a fire victim, food cards, utility payments and thawing water pipes that froze last winter. The more boxes of food that are sold, the greater amount of money Oasis has to meet these emergency needs.

Oasis Executive Director Tim Poland often hears, “I can afford food, so I don’t go to Ruby’s Pantry. I don’t want to take food away from people who need it.” Because each box of food sold adds to the benevolence funds available in the community, Poland encourages everyone, regardless of income, to take advantage of the distribution.

“We’ve never run out of boxes,” said Poland. “If we run a little short of one food item, we can always substitute another to fill the box.”

The coffee house also kicks off Oasis’ annual sponsorship drive. Sponsorship by individuals, families, businesses, churches, and service organizations support all of the programs of Oasis including Fix A Home, Paint-A-Thon, Ruby’s Pantry, and Share A Meal. To learn more about becoming a sponsor stop by the Coffee House or visit Oasis’ website at www.oasiscm.org.

The Great River Arts Center is located at 122 First St. S.E. in downtown Little Falls. For more information on the coffee house and/or the organization’s programs, contact the Oasis Central Minnesota office at (320) 632-9140.

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