StacieMichels

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people from all walks of life, Stacie Michels, president of the Sauk Centre Area Chamber of Commerce, set up a Facebook page where community members can connect to help one another out.

The COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect people from all walks of life, including the residents in the Sauk Centre area.

Concerned about local businesses after Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz ordered many to close to prevent further spreading of the virus, Stacie Michels, president of the Sauk Centre Area Chamber of Commerce, also wanted to create a platform for people to connect.

On March 18, Michels launched the Facebook group “Neighbors Helping Neighbors — Sauk Centre Area.” There, people who are in need of certain products, services and more can post their specific need.

During the current crisis, fear for loved ones and for the future and simply feeling lonely amidst the governor’s order for social distancing can be quite overwhelming for many, Michels said reaching out to someone else in need can help.

“One thing that I feel strongly about is that sometimes when you are faced with all the things you can’t do or the things that you are facing that are beyond your control, the easiest way to lift your own spirit is sometimes to lift those of others,” she said.

Michels said there are many people in the community that could use some help, whether it is help with going grocery shopping or pulling together to meet a certain need. One need several people in the area have lent their hand to meeting is sewing masks and scrubs for health care workers. Many who don’t know how to sew have donated fabrics and other material.

“I think that is on everybody’s mind and it is something we can do,” she said.

When many businesses closed altogether or are only open through drive-thru, the number of drop off locations for the Sauk Centre Community Connection Food Shelf disappeared. As more individuals and families may become food insecure, Michels encourages those who can, to donate food items to the Food Shelf by bringing it to one of the drop-off locations, such as Coborn’s or Schaefer’s Market in Sauk Centre.

Michels said that if anyone wants to make a food donation, but is unable to drop it off themselves, she is positive that if the person posted it on the Facebook group, someone would offer to pick it up and to drop it off for them. All they would have to do is to set it outside on their doorstep to still practice the social distancing guidelines that are in effect.

“It’s really neighbors helping neighbors. The page was really created for the community and the community has stepped up with multiple different offers,” she said.

Michels said the requests people make can really be about anything. Although the page is set up for residents in the Sauk Centre area, anyone can join. Some may live far away, but still have loved ones living in the community, she said.

“We had someone request to deliver a meal to a loved one and their request was coming from someone outside of the community who couldn’t get here,” Michels said.

She also encourages people to write encouraging and positive letters to essential workers who are on the front lines — health care workers, grocery store employees, gas station staff and more.

“Write them letters to give them a ray of hope,” she said.

Busy tending to Chamber duties and working closely with Sauk Centre area businesses as they navigate the effects of COVID-19, Michels and the Chamber have created a page (www.sauk centrechamber.com/gov ernment-affairs) to keep people up-to-date on COVID-19 communications from several government and local entities in one spot.    

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