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Column: Witnessing 'Perham Pride' firsthand

It seems that everywhere I go, whenever I tell people that I work at the newspaper in Perham, people comment about what a progressive town it is, how neat the downtown is, or how friendly the people are.

On more than one occasion I have heard that "people in Perham know how to get things done." This last town trait was once again witnessed first-hand on Friday, Aug. 26 when my daughter, Grace and I had the opportunity to volunteer at the food drop held at Calvary Lutheran Church.

The food drop, a part of United Way's Project Community Connect, was organized when Rotary president, Pastor Phil Holtan, decided to make it his presidential project for the year. He called upon his fellow Rotarians, members of his congregation, and the Perham High School football team to give of their time to help others in need, and the turnout was impressive.

Beginning around 2:30 p.m., the semi-truck of food was unloaded and included everything from cereal to fresh produce. Volunteers hurried to unpack and organize the food to be ready in time for the 4 p.m. arrival of the 65 families that had pre-registered.

Mary Phillipe, executive director of United Way for Otter Tail County, informed us that additional families who were not registered would more than likely be showing. As it turned out, 85 families (around 300 people) were given enough food to help them fill in around their regular meals for the next month or more.

Never having volunteered at an event like this, I was not quite sure what to expect. But those who had worked at previous food drops assured me that it would be a rewarding experience.

At 4 p.m. the doors were opened and the first 10 families were brought in. For those who needed help carrying and loading their food, a football player or other volunteer was on hand to walk with them through the line and out to their vehicle.

While I was impressed with the effort from all of the volunteers, I was especially impressed with the Perham Yellowjacket football team. These young men were a big help to the cause. They were hard workers who were respectful and pleasant to the families and they represented the community well. Any one of them could be the poster child for Perham Pride.

By 5:45 p.m. the drop was done. The last of the families had gone through the line; most of the food was gone. What was left over was to be donated to area food shelves.

Seeing people joining together to help those in need, watching my daughter's face light up as she worked alongside the other volunteers, I have to say, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. It certainly reaffirmed what I've heard for years: In Perham, they know how to get things done.