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Community comes together to stock Amen Food Pantry’s shelves before the holidays

As families prepare for Halloween looking at all of the activities for their children to choose from, there are about 150 families in Dickinson simply trying to figure out their next meal.

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Dickinson homeschool children went door-to-door on Wednesday night dressed in their Halloween costumes but they weren't asking for candy, they were asking for donations to the food pantry. (Press Photo by Kalsey Stults)

As families prepare for Halloween looking at all of the activities for their children to choose from, there are about 150 families in Dickinson simply trying to figure out their next meal.

“We’re averaging 15,000 to 16,000 pounds of food a month,”  said Ron Keller, president of the pantry volunteer board. “This is going out each and every month.”

The Amen Food Pantry in Dickinson provided food for 133 households in September, which was less than in October when 151 households sought out help.

“It’s so remarkable the generosity of the people of Dickinson and southwest North Dakota. People have been brought up with a good foundation of giving, of sharing, of helping,” he said. “That’s why it makes it such a great place to live in Dickinson, N.D. because you have compassionate, caring and kind people.”

While the oil boom and the oil bust has seen people come and go Keller said there is still just as much of a need for food as ever and people are just as generous as always..

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Individuals and groups in town are answering the call to stock the shelves before the holidays.

Krista Bothum, owner of KBothum photography,  is hosting a Halloween costume food drive for the first time this year.

Bothum will be taking photos at Evergreen Senior Living on Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. for the low cost of one grocery bag filled with donatable items to the Amen Food Pantry.

She said she wanted to give back to the community that has supported her as a small business owner.

“I was kind of blown away by the support of my hometown community for my little business that  I started, and so I was looking for a way to give back,” she said. “I just kind of thought about it for a while and the different things I could do. I kind of landed on the Amen Food Pantry.”

Bothum said she originally planned for the photo to be of kids in their Halloween costume at her studio but when the event started gaining momentum and people started inquiring about it, she knew she needed a larger location.

So she moved it to Evergreen and opened it up for families to be included in the pictures, even those of the four-legged kind.

“It’s open to anyone,” she said before adding, “as long as you bring me a bag of groceries.”

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Bothum and her sister Kelley Hartman will also be in costume as Disney characters Anna and Elsa from the movie “Frozen”.
“I am blown away by the response already,” she said. “I would be thrilled if we had 300 kids come through. That’s just a wild ballpark.”

Another Dickinson business -- Aloha Tan -- has been accepting cans during their annual Tan for a Can drive which will be coming to an end on Monday.

“We just want to be involved in the community and give back as much as we can,” said Mallory King, who works alongside her family at the salon. “We figured this was a good thing to do right before Thanksgiving and Christmas comes.”

The event encourages people to bring in one can which in turn will give the participant the opportunity to have one free tan in any bed or one session of red light therapy.

King said that the community has been very responsive to their food drive and people are donating without the incentive of tanning.

“We’ve actually had quite a few people who’ve just stopped in to give us donations that tan here anyway and just wanted to help out,” she said.

Even little ones in Dickinson are getting involved in getting cans.

Dickinson homeschoolers met on Wednesday and went door-to-door asking people to make donations.

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Around 30 children donned their Halloween costumes went around the neighborhoods surrounding the Dickinson Area Public Library collecting cans and non-perishable items in their wagons.

Jenetta Fisher Padilla said that this was the first year the group decided to have the event and she hopes to continue it in the future and watch it grow in the community.

She said she hopes that the kids that participated will “see what it’s like to give” and bring an “awareness for how blessed we are and how some people are in need.”

Keller said that the pantry is currently at 50 to 60 percent stocked and with CanArtopia on November 18, the pantry looks better this time of year than it did two years ago, but Keller reminds people that they don’t only accept canned food.

“With the canartopia coming up next month there’s a lot of times we get the can stuff and not the toiletry stuff,” he said adding that people can donate those as well.

“We are getting into the holiday season and a lot of people that are short on cash want to buy a Christmas gift, and they have to find that cash,” he said.

Anyone interested in donating or obtaining food can visit the pantry that’s open Tuesdays and Thursdays from  2 p.m. until 4 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until noon.

Related Topics: DICKINSON
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