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How one group is using scraps of wood to comfort others

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FARGO — It is easy to throw away or burn wood scraps since they tend to clutter our garage or basement, but a group of men at Hope Lutheran Church in Fargo is turning those scraps into unique "crosses of comfort."

In a south Fargo home the work begins; Gerald Larsen, carefully cutting crosses, all from scrap pieces of wood headed to the landfill.

Close to 20 men gather monthly, part of the Hope Lutheran's prayer cross outreach, just retired guys with nothing to do.

It is quite an assembly line they have, one group does the prep work; sanding and getting the edges smooth.

After the crosses are rough cut and run through the sander and the router, they come downstairs, where the artists take over.

These crosses won't hang on a wall, or end up in cluttered kitchen drawer, they are headed to a hand.

"The way the curves are, it fits nicely in your hand," said Larsen.

Volunteers donate the crosses, getting them into the hands of those who are grieving or facing a devastating diagnosis, will be given one of these crosses to grip.

All have been branded with words of comfort, hope, faith and love.

"It is a labor of love, means a lot to a lot of people," said Dave Heide, Hope Lutheran Church Member.

Heide know what these crosses mean, he recently lost his daughter Kaia to breast cancer.

Never did he think what he and the other men have been doing these last two years would get so personal.

"Well, it is a constant memory of my daughter, but still hard," said Heide.

7,000 crosses have been cut, sanded, and branded.

All with that comforting curve, that a hand can wrap around, they have found their way to all corners of the world now, because somewhere, someplace, someone needed it.

"It is wonderful, such a blessing. A blessing," said Larsen.

Quite a ministry these men offer, taking scrap and turning them all into wood of wonder.

"It is really heartwarming, it is all about faith and grace, this is the whole Scripture. Faith, hope and love. The greatest of these is love," said Heide.

The men who volunteer their time say they also do this as a way to honor one of their longtime members who helped start the cross ministry group.

Ron Messelt was a longtime Fargo educator, he recently died and all his children received a cross in his memory.

Kevin Wallevand

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia and the Middle East. He is an Emmy and Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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