The residents that walk through the doors of C.R.O.S.S. (Christians Reaching Out In Social Service) food shelf are not the same demographic of people who used the non-profit’s services 30 years ago.
Today, they are professionals who are out of work—doctors, lawyers, teachers. They are moms and dads looking for help, not only with putting food on the table, but with building up their resumes, getting career counseling and finding a job. In an ever changing economic climate, C.R.O.S.S. has changed, too.
“When we first opened in 1977, C.R.O.S.S. was for lower income folks who needed food,” said C.R.O.S.S Coordinator Char Lake. “Today, we see more middle class families. We see sons and daughters who are still living at home, trying to make it in the work environment. We have a lot of people that come to us with [college] degrees.”
And, according to Lake, the number of registered families at the food shelf has increased by 15 percent.
“People are coming and going all the time,” Lake said. “We are helping a lot of families adjust to living a little differently.”
On average, Lake said that the food shelf helps 550 families a month. Around Christmas, that number increases. But with 2,000 monthly volunteer hours, the food shelf continues to operate smoothly during times of increased demand.
“I can keep a lot more people busy today than I could 30 years ago,” Lake said.
With the holidays quickly approaching, Lake and the C.R.O.S.S volunteers are gearing up for their annual Toys for Tots and Adopt-A-Family programs—initiatives that are supported by local churches and community groups. Though Lake said that donations are down, churches and organizations around the community are stepping up to the plate. For example, twice a year St. Vincent de Paul Catholic Church participates in a food drive for C.R.O.S.S.
“We usually have 800 to 1,000 families from our parish that participate in the food drive,” said Okey Anyanwu, the church’s pastoral minister. In addition to cash donations, St. Vincent’s food drive will help C.R.O.S.S registered families during Thanksgiving weekend.
Several churches and community organizations help support of the food shelf’s Toys for Tots program.
“We put C.R.O.S.S boxes around the community,” Lake said. “About half of the toys come from the Marines, but the other half we get from the community, and from churches like Word of Peace.”
Casual generosity of the community keep establishments like C.R.O.S.S functioning during times of need.
“We want to promote family dinners,” Lake said. “Today, it seems like everybody knows somebody that needs to use the food shelf.”
C.R.O.S.S. food shelf is located in Rogers and serves the communities of Maple Grove, west Champlin, Corcoran, Dayton, Hassan, Maple Grove, Osseo, and Rogers.
Related Topics: C.R.O.S.S. Food Shelf, Char Lake, Toys For Tots, and dispatches
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