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Local coat and food distribution gets the community together to give back

Grand Forks resident Jaime Verzosa started the event with the vision of getting the community together to give back

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Andriquez Taylor (left) and Summer Larson (right) pick out coats during the fourth coat and food distribution held in the Gambucci Arena on Saturday, Sept. 24.
Meghan Arbegast/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — A coat and food distribution provided free winter wear and a meal for residents in the community at the Gambucci Arena on Saturday, Sept. 24.

This is the fourth year the coat and food distribution event has been held. Grand Forks resident Jaime Verzosa started the event with the vision of getting the community together to give back. Verzosa, who has provided warm meals to Northlands Rescue Mission, worked with staff to plan out the distribution starting back in 2019.

“I know there was a time when I was hungry. I didn’t know what I was going to eat so [I’m] very blessed with where I’m at in life,” Verzosa said. “I just feel pushed to keep paying it forward. If I can do something to provide, I think that’s what my purpose in life is.”

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Grand Forks resident Jamie Verzosa (right) and Matthew Collings, a marketing communications coordinator with Northlands Rescue Mission (left). Verzosa started the coat distribution in 2019 with the vision of getting the community together to give back.

Several organizations and businesses in the community help out with the coat distribution. One of those businesses is the Bubble Laundry Company, which has washed the donated coats for the past three years.

Jordan Rudnik, general manager of Bubble, said it has been great being a part of giving back to the community as people need to be able to pick up clean coats at the distribution.

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“It’s just really good to be able to provide that,” Rudnik said.

Matthew Collings, marketing communications coordinator with Northlands Rescue Mission, said between 80–90% of the coats are donated by residents in the community and local churches donate as well.

Many volunteers said they enjoy seeing the community come together for a good cause. Virginia Pantzer, who helped out with cooking the food for the event with her husband, Bruce, said it was nice to give back by helping out.

“These are tough times so we want to be able to help people,” Pantzer said.

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Virginia Pantzer and her husband Bruce helped out by cooking hamburgers and hotdogs.
Meghan Arbegast/Grand Forks Herald

Volunteers Janet Nelson and Patrice Zeal, who both are with the local nonprofit Love in Action, said the distribution is necessary with the current economic challenges people are facing.

“With groceries being on the rise and gas prices and all that other stuff, we need to make sure that the people here especially in this environment have warm clothing,” Nelson said.

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Volunteers Janet Nelson (left) and Patrice Zeal (right), both with the Love in Action, helped out with checking people in.
Meghan Arbegast/Grand Forks Herald

The distribution also had activities for kids as the fire department had a fire truck and mascot present, bouncy houses were set up and face painting was done by Josef’s School of Hair, Skin and Body.

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Related Topics: CITY OF GRAND FORKS
Meghan Arbegast grew up in Security-Widefield, Colorado. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Journalism from North Dakota State University in Fargo, in 2021.

Arbegast wrote for The Spectrum, NDSU's student newspaper, for three years and was Head News Editor for two years. She was an intern with University Relations her last two semesters of college.

Arbegast covers news pertaining to the city of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks including city hall coverage.

Readers can reach Arbegast at 701-780-1267 or MArbegast@gfherald.com.

Pronouns: She/Her
Languages: English
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