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Sertoma Club awards longtime volunteers

Ben Pifher/MDN Rick Halbert holds a check awarded by the Minot Sertoma Club. Halbert told the club to write the check for the Bishop Ryan Scholarship Fund instead of to him.

Rick Halbert and Charles Guseman received the Sertoma Club’s Service to Mankind award on Monday. The award is for those who have gone above and beyond in service of Minot.

Halbert and Guseman have volunteered their time to work the Sertoma Club’s Christmas in the Park event on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve for 27 years.

This is the first time the award has been given in five years, according to Gowan.

The group “wanted to honor these two men who have given so much of their time to our club and our community while refusing to take anything as payment,” Bryan Obenchain, a member of the club, said. Guseman was not able to attend the award ceremony.

Halbert said he has been volunteering his time through the Christmas season since 1996 and has only missed Christmas day at Christmas in the Park one time.

“The biggest thing is, I’ve been around Minot since 1977, and getting to see people I haven’t seen in a while is fun,” he said.

Christmas in the Park is one of the Sertoma Club’s largest fundraisers.

Dave Gowan, the chapters former president, said last year the event brought in $75,000. The club also sponsors various sporting events and facilities around town. It even bought animals for the zoo, according to Gowan.

Halbert’s wife, JoEllen, who helps her husband and Guseman out at the booth from time to time, brings them food each year. She said that “meeting the kids and dogs is the most fun thing.” Halbert shook his head in agreement and told about how some people bring their families to see the lights every night through the season. The Halberts are known to some as Mr. and Mrs. Claus when they are seen at the event.

“I’m honored,” Halbert said of receiving the award. “It’s one of those things where you do the right thing and someone takes their time to honor you.”

When speaking about how he earned the award, he said, “It’s more of being yourself. We did it. It was the right thing to do and people enjoyed it. It felt great.”

Both of the Halberts told about pay-it-forward chains at the park. Entry to see the lights is $5 and sometimes cars will give a $20 or a $50 bill and pay for themselves and the cars behind.

“Sometimes that extra money will last a long time because the cars that were paid for will pay anyway, and it will keep going. It’s really fun seeing how generous people are,” JoEllen Halbert said.

The Sertoma Club, which has been around since 1912, established the chapter in Minot in 1959. The Minot club holds a membership of about 50 people, who refer to themselves as community leaders.

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