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Grand Forks woman who donated 3,700 pounds of produce gets national attention

Donna Stumphf, Grand Forks, raised nearly 3,100 pounds of vegetables to give to needy families this fall. She's pictured here in the garden plot which was donated to her by All Seasons Garden Center. (Submitted photo)

Since her story about growing and donating more than 3,700 pounds of vegetables for the needy appeared in the Grand Forks Herald last week, Donna Stumphf has received a few unexpected phone calls.

Stumphf has been fielding requests from TV producers with "Good Morning, America" and "The Steve Harvey Show" and reps of the Mother Nature Network, she said.

"My grandkids have called and said, 'Grandma, you've gone viral on Facebook,' " said Stumphf who turns 68 Tuesday, of Grand Forks.

Her son has alerted her to the attention her good work is gaining in the Billings, Mont., area.

"There are more than 1,000 posts from the Billings Gazette," she said he told her, "and I guess radio stations have posted the story on their Facebook pages."

The Oct. 28 Herald story described her decision "to do something about hunger," and how her initial goal of growing 500 pounds of vegetables turned into a haul of 3,727 pounds, which she gave to the the local Salvation Army and Northlands Rescue Mission over the course of several weeks.

Stumphf said she receives a lot of spam calls, most of which she ignores. But last week, she noticed one missed call that read, "New York City," in the caller identification box.

"The caller left a voice message," she said.

She returned the call, and reached a man who said he worked with "Good Morning America," she said. They only spoke briefly because he said he was driving and asked if he could call her back.

"I didn't want him to be in a wreck," she said. "He gave me his personal cell number."

She's a bit overwhelmed by this turn of events, she said. "This is absolutely unbelievable."

But it could be that her story is a welcome respite from "a lot of negativity" dominating the news and political ads these days, she said.

Her son and others are encouraging her to accept the invitations for interviews.

"My son said, 'You've been given this fantastic, unbelievable gift. If you inspire one person to do something (about hunger), you've doubled your impact.' "

"He said, 'Mom, you have a responsibility' " to spread the word about demonstrating concern for others.

Her husband agrees. He's told her to think about why she would accept the invitations.

"He said, If you're doing it for fame and fortune, you're out of luck. If you're doing it to inspire others to do the same thing, you should do it," she said.

He has also commented on the example she has set.

"He says, 'Donna, you've got every disease in the world. As old and slow as you are, if you can do this, anyone can.' "

She is quick, though, to credit those who helped cultivate the garden plot, donated by All Seasons Garden Center, and harvest its bounty—many of whom were Lions Club members and UND students.

"I couldn't have done it without the young people," she said. "They inspired me and amazed me. They gave me actual energy."

Stumphf is still trying to wrap her head around the media requests. She's been asking herself, "Am I in a Twilight Zone? Am I hallucinating?" she said. "I don't know what I feel. It's weird.

"This is definitely not normal for Grand Forks, North Dakota."

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