By Tim Conway

Contributing Writer

I was moved by the recent articles that shined a light on the generosity of our communities. The efforts coordinated by CROSS Services, the Rotary and Lions Clubs, and the Osseo Holiday Cheer event are stunning examples of how communities look out for their own.

I am a Maple Grove Lion, and was happy to be able to participate in our annual Holiday Baskets program with the Maple Grove Fire Relief Association despite the limitation of the pandemic. I remember my first year as a Lion, and the culmination of packing the food baskets and seeing donations for more than 150 families fill nearly half the floor of the Fire Station. It was my “Lion’s Moment,” or that aha moment when I felt the value of my service.

Rotarians must have had their moment when filling the boxes of food and other donations for their Project Happiness. Along with the Dr. Dash Foundation and Hindu Society of Minnesota, the Rotary Club has been sending food, gas cards and restaurant cards to 1,000 families from before Christmas through this past week.

CROSS Services helped coordinate the Rotary event and received a food donation from the Lions event as well. CROSS is not just a food shelf, but provides as range of services including school supplies, toys, and clothing, as well as temporary housing assistance. The staff can help people navigate to and through other support agencies, and everything is done with a desire to treat the clients with the highest level of dignity.

Explore Osseo added another heart-warming gesture this year. In association with Created by Me and Osseo Savitt Paint, the local business promotion group set up a collection of items for distribution to two residences for older citizens. When my wife Nancy and I dropped off a donation at the paint store, the enthusiasm and appreciation with which we were greeted underscored the spirit of service at the heart of the program.

Of course, none of the organizations do these things entirely on their own. The entire community contributes by supporting fund-raising activities and making generous in-kind donations. Word of mouth by residents boost turn-out at events and keeps these efforts in the forefront of people’s minds.

Still, every one of the organizations and efforts needs hands-on support from members and volunteers. Participation does require a continuous commitment, but not such a lot of time that it is an imposition in even the busiest lives. For those whose family and work situations may hold them back, perhaps their children might be interested in Junior Rotarian or Leo Club programs at local schools.

Here are some local and area resources to find out more about service opportunities in your community.

Hennepin County Lions Clubs: lions5m-5.org

Central Minnesota Rotary Club Directory: portal.clubrunner.ca/50084/ClubDirectory

CROSS Services: crossservices.org

Maple Grove Firefighters Relief Association: facebook.com/MGFireRelief/

Dr. Dash Foundation: drdashfoundation.com

Hindu Society of Minnesota: hindumandirmn.org

Tim Conaway is a Maple Grove resident, and a member of the Maple Grove Lions and Age-Friendly Maple Grove.

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