A donation of more than $450,000 from Kum & Go and its customers is providing a boost to the latest home build of the Northern Lights Chapter of Habitat for Humanity in Minot.
Representatives of the company and Habitat for Humanity gathered at the build site Wednesday with the recipient family, Kum & Go employees and others to celebrate a donation that came to Minot because of the generosity of North Dakotans.
In March, Kum & Go launched its "Let's Build a Home Together" project, inviting customers to add donations to their in-store purchases to support Habitat for Humanity. Kum & Go committed to sponsoring a full Habitat home build in one of the communities in the 11 states where its 430 stores operate. North Dakota associates collected the most money as a percentage of customer traffic, winning the contest and securing a home for a low-income family in the Minot area.
Tim and Kelly Barnes with their children, Jacob, Savannah and Paityn, gather with Kum & Go employees, in the red shirts, outside their Habitat for Humanity home under construction in northwest Minot Wednesday.
Members of Habitat for Humanity and Kum & Go, backed by Minot Area Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, clasp the ceremonial shovels Wednesday for a tree planting in the yard of the latest Habitat home in Minot. At left is Bruce Walker, board chairman of the Northern Lights affiliate, and at right are Ruth Davila of the national Habitat office and Mark Hasting with Kum & Go.
The contest raised $262,000, with the largest share, $25,000, collected in North Dakota. Kum & Go also is making a $100,000 corporate donation and an additional donation estimated at $100,000 to sponsor the Minot home build.
Traci Rodemeyer, external communications manager for Kum & Go, Des Moines, Iowa, said the selection of Minot came at a time when the Northern Lights chapter happened to have a family and a location and only needed the house.
"It just reaffirmed for us what a great partnership this is. It was meant to be. We were meant to build here," she said.
Northern Lights is building a house in the Oak Park area with Tim and Kelly Barnes of Minot, who were selected as homeowners and will be adding their sweat equity to the project. Habitat homeowners also pay mortgages, which are reduced thanks to donations and volunteers.
The Barnes have three children: Jacob, 9, Savannah, 7, and Paityn, 4. Kelly Barnes said because of Paityn's disability, they need a more accessible home than the house in which they are living. Habitat for Humanity also is making home ownership affordable for them, she said.
Tim Barnes, who works for Minot Lumber, is familiar with construction and said he looks forward to working on his own home.
Employees of Kum & Go are committing their labor as a bonus to the donations to the project.
Sam Lindell of the Williston store and former manager of the Tioga store during the contest, was in Minot to spend a couple of days this week on construction. She said the entire process from the contest to construction has been exciting.
"This family means so much to us," she said. "Even though we gave money, we wanted to give our time, too. We want to make sure we put in 150 percent for this family."
Ruth Davila, director of cause marketing for Habitat for Humanity International, attended Wednesday's event from Atlanta, and Jackie Velk of Sen. John Hoeven's Minot office read remarks from the senator and from North Dakota First Lady Betsy Dalrymple.
The Rev. Nathan Mugaas, who provided the ceremony invocation, spoke about the new home's neighborhood, where he also lives. The area was flooded with 12 to 15 feet of water in 2011.
"Every time a house is rebuilt or as in this case torn down and built anew it's a huge lift for this community," he said. Of the Kum & Go partnership, he added, "That's a huge gift not only to this great, deserving family but also for us as a whole neighborhood. It means a lot to our community and our neighborhood that the vitality and life that was here before the flood is starting to come back more and more."
Habitat for Humanity started construction about a month ago and hopes to complete the house by the end of December.