A Warroad, Minn., nonprofit has donated $20,000 to four food shelves in Roseau and Lake of the Woods counties to help those in need of groceries and other necessities during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Through the donation from HELPP — short for Helping Ease Local People’s Pain — food shelves in Baudette, Warroad, Roseau and Greenbush, Minn., each received $5,000 checks on Friday, March 27, according to Penny Turgeon of Warroad, president of HELPP.

A 501c3 nonprofit, HELPP was formed about three years ago by seven volunteers, “who came together to assist people on a person-to-person basis,” the organization’s website states.

“We decided that a lot of our fundraising efforts were going out of the area and not really coming back,” Turgeon said.

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Traditionally, Turgeon said, HELPP has issued gas cards and grocery cards to those in need who live or work within the Warroad School District but decided to expand the effort to neighboring communities dealing with unemployment and other issues resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Donations and a variety of fundraising efforts put HELPP in a financial position to help area food shelves, Turgeon said.

“We were like, ‘How can we reach everybody?’” Turgeon said. “Marvins is not laying off yet, but a lot of businesses, like even our hairdressers, if they’re not there, they don’t get paid.”

Board member Rick Corneliusen came up with the idea, Turgeon said, and distributed checks to the four food shelves Friday, March 27.

“Because we live in the land of Norwegians and Swedes who do not like to get help, we want to blitz the media with the message that this is for everybody” in the two counties, she said. “This is a hand-up and not a handout.”

Participating Minnesota food shelves in March also receive supplemental funding from Minnesota FoodShare as part of its annual “March Campaign.” Participating food shelves across the state receive supplemental “March Campaign” funding based on donations they receive in March, and the $5,000 HELPP donations will put the four northwest Minnesota food shelves in line for additional dollars.

This year’s March Campaign has been extended through April 30 because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Minnesota FoodShare website.

Iona Ferderer of the Roseau Area Food Shelf holds the $5,000 check the food shelf received Friday, March 27, from the Warroad nonprofit HELPP (Helping Ease Local People's Pain). The nonprofit also donated $5,000 to food shelves in Baudette, Warroad and Greenbush, Minn. (Photo courtesy of Penny Turgeon/ HELPP)
Iona Ferderer of the Roseau Area Food Shelf holds the $5,000 check the food shelf received Friday, March 27, from the Warroad nonprofit HELPP (Helping Ease Local People's Pain). The nonprofit also donated $5,000 to food shelves in Baudette, Warroad and Greenbush, Minn. (Photo courtesy of Penny Turgeon/ HELPP)

Iona Ferderer, director of the Roseau Area Food Shelf, said she knew nothing about the HELPP donation until receiving the check Friday.

“I can’t believe that an organization would be giving out so much money, which is wonderful,” Ferderer said. “We just hope it goes to the very, very needy ones because we don’t know people. We take their word: If you are in need, you come.”

On the web:

  • Helping Ease Local People’s Pain: helppwarroad.com.

  • Minnesota FoodShare: mnfoodshare.org.

Reach Brad Dokken at (701) 780-1148 or bdokken@gfherald.com.