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Plymouth resident Nigina Aslova, an Uzbekistani immigrant who moved to the U.S. five years ago, is one of the many volunteers who help at the food shelf at Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners in Plymouth. (Submitted photo)

Nonprofit’s Prevent Hunger food drive ends March 31

At the end of the month, Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners will end its annual Prevent Hunger food drive. 

The month-long campaign, which aims to help community members who are struggling to make ends meet, is one of the many ways the Plymouth-based nonprofit lends a hand to those in need. 

Over the years, the organization has helped people in need by offering assistance through access to its food shelf and providing family support and employment services. 

One of the many people the organization has helped is Plymouth resident Nigina Aslova, an immigrant from Uzbekistan who moved to the U.S. with her family five years ago. Aslova said she and her husband struggled to find good jobs and found it difficult to adapt to their new home country. On the suggestion of a friend, she decided to go to Interfaith Outreach.

“Some problems happened in our lives and someone told me there was a good organization that could help with everything. And you know what? They helped me with everything,” she said.

Interfaith Outreach provided Aslova with a gas gift card and childcare program. The organization also offered her housing assistance, English language classes and access to its food shelf.

“They helped me with everything,” she said. “If this organization wasn’t in my life, I don’t know what would have happened.”

The assistance allowed Aslova and her husband the time and resources needed to get on their feet. Her husband found a job installing floors and Aslova began going to community college to study criminal justice. As part of her service learning program at the college, she was asked to choose somewhere where she could provide service to her community. It didn’t take long for her to decide where to volunteer.

“It’s time to say thank you. It’s time to pay it forward,”she said. “This is one of the reasons why I’m volunteering.”

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Volunteers stock the shelves at Interfaith Outreach and Community Partners’ food shelf in Plymouth. (Sun Sailor file photo by Jason Jenkins)

For the past three months, Aslova has volunteered her time to help run the food shelf, which according to Interfaith Outreach, is used by an average of 4,500 individuals each year, 44 percent of whom are children. Many seniors living on a low and fixed income also use the food shelf as a supplemental resource.

Aslova has also helped work at Resale Select, Interfaith Outreach’s thrift store, the proceeds of which benefit the nonprofit’s programs and services. She said the environment at the organization has always been friendly and welcoming – as a client and now as a place to volunteer.

“They are so kind,” she said. “Everyone smiles and is so grateful. I really enjoy being there because of this atmosphere.”

The past month has been a busy time for the food shelf and its volunteers. The nonprofit has upped the goal for this year’s Prevent Hunger campaign. After a successful 2017 fundraising effort, which collected $167,695 and 105,757 pounds of food and essential household items, this year’s goal has been set at $200,000 and 100,000 pounds.

As of March 26, the campaign has brought in $154,000 and 75,700 pounds.

Prevent Hunger, which is a part of the larger MN FoodShare March Campaign, bolsters Interfaith Outreach’s ongoing work to address hunger and the causes of hunger in the community. Donations help keep the nonprofit’s food shelf stocked and support the organization’s employment, food and family support services.

The community-wide effort helps struggling families in Interfaith Outreach’s service area of Long Lake, Orono, Minnetonka Beach, Hamel, Medicine Lake, Medina, Plymouth and Wayzata.

Monetary donations can be made in person at Interfaith Outreach, 1605 County Rd. 101 N., Plymouth, or made through iocp.org/donate. Checks can also be mailed to Interfaith Outreach with “Prevent Hunger” written on the memo line.

To learn more about ways to help with the campaign, email Lani Willis, development manager, at lwillis@iocp.org or call 763-489-7704. A toolkit is also available at iocp.org/preventhunger.

 

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