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Chamber group delivers blessing

Start-up charity gets boost from leadership class

Submitted Photo Participants in the Minot Area Chamber of Commerce’s Community Leadership Institute stand behind a personal care and household items collected for the Magic City Blessing Bank and delivered this week.

The Magic City Blessing Bank has been blessed by participants in a Minot Area Chamber of Commerce leadership class, who presented a generous collection of items to the fledgling charity this week.

The Blessing Bank, which launched Oct. 1, provides personal care and household items to local individuals in need, with a focus on school students and their families.

Twenty-five Minot Area Chamber of Commerce members participating in the nine-week Community Leadership Institute presented donations to Blessing Bank coordinator Chuck Kranz prior to their graduation luncheon Thursday.

The group collected 3,913 items and donated $2,219. Members enlisted the help of the Optimist Club and Magic City Lions, which collected 532 items and $1,000 toward the total.

“It’s definitely going to fill a need,” said CLI participant Jacob Fannik.

The chamber selected the Blessing Bank as the community project for this class of CLI participants.

Kranz, who is an assistant principal at Central Campus, spoke to the CLI group at its first meeting Sept. 5, generating enthusiasm for the project and for helping students and their families.

“It’s been a big push for all of us in our various organizations to have drop boxes available,” Fannik said.

A collection trailer also had been parked for a time at First International Bank. The Magic City Lions and Optimists engaged in a friendly competition to see which organization could generate the most donations to help out CLI’s cause. CLI participants have capitalized on opportunities to create community awareness, too.

Kranz, a long-time teacher and principal, said the need for a bank of personal care items became apparent in the number of students who weren’t getting their basic care needs met because of poverty or neglect.

“There was not a one-stop shop for personal care items in our community that all people could access,” he said.

Kranz approached the Minot Junior Golf Association for a grant to start the Magic City Blessing Bank. The association provided the initial backing. Other organizations since have provided additional support, and the Souris Valley United Way serves as fiscal agent and provides warehouse space.

The Blessing Bank collects about 60 different personal care items. Items range from toothpaste and deodorant to mops, stamps and city bus passes. A list of items can be found on Magic City Blessing Bank’s Facebook page. Items or cash donations can be made to the Blessing Bank in care of Souris Valley United Way.

School-aged children and their families who need assistance can place orders at any of the Minot Public’s schools. Individuals also can order at Ward County Social Services, Immanuel Baptist Church Soup Kitchen, the YWCA and the Minot Area Homeless Coalition. They can order up to 10 items a week.

Items are delivered to the order site for pick up within five days. In emergencies, orders can be expedited. REM and Kalix have been assisting to deliver the orders.

“I have been very fortunate and blessed to have some great volunteers who deliver the packages,” Kranz said. “It really runs itself very well because there’s some great people.”

In its first four weeks, Blessing Bank volunteers delivered about 800 personal care items to support about 150 individuals.

“We can still support more people than that. With our grant through Minot Junior Golf and other grants from the community and state, we feel like we could run this program pretty steady,” Kranz said. “We hope this continues on for decades. That’s our goal.”

Kranz’s dream is in a couple of years to have a van that can travel to soup kitchens and other locations where there is need to distribute items.

CLI members gave the Blessing Bank a boost while also getting a behind-the scenes look at their community through participation in the Chamber of Commerce course. The course included visits to Roosevelt Park Zoo, Trinity Health Riverside and Minot Air Force Base. Among the weekly sessions were meetings with the Minot Fire Department, Minot Police Department and state Bureau of Criminal Investigations and with representatives of companies engaged in agribusiness and oil.

Fannik, who serves on the chamber’s agribusiness committee, said in addition to learning about the community, participation creates opportunities to network with participants from other businesses that are active in the chamber.

“It does take some time,” Fannik said of the course, “but it is very beneficial for those that have a chance to be a part of it.”

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