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Fitness community helps kids with school supplies

Anytime Fitness and DL Fusion helped gather school supplies for children in need around Becker County. Those who helped include, from left, Jennifer Yost (Anytime Fitness manager), Sara Pender (co-owner), Annie Vigen (Becker County Community Health), Steven and Alicia Lokken (co-owners). SUBMITTED PHOTO

At least 45 kids are starting school this year with their backpacks filled with supplies they may not have ordinarily had without some help from the community.

“The supplies went to families who are struggling to provide school supplies,” said Annie Vigen, an RN with Becker County Human Services.

The school supply drive started with a little muscle behind it and grew from there.

Alicia Lokken and her husband Steve became co-owners of Anytime Fitness in Detroit Lakes earlier this year. When they went to franchise training, “they talked about giving back to your community, and that was the first thing we decided we wanted to do, was to give back to the community after we took over here,” she said.

So they started with the back-to-school drive, and in October, they plan to do a food drive for the Becker County Food Pantry and possibly the Adopt a Highway program.

“We just really want to give back to our community as much as we can,” she said.

The fitness center started by designing a chalkboard that said donations were welcome. Lokken said that she went out and bought some supplies to get the ball rolling.

From there, she said, people would come in and see the donations, leave and come back with donations of their own.

“It was great to see people bringing them in,” she said of the donations. “We all came together on it. It was members and non-members alike that helped pull it together.”

Once they got the donations, Vigen and Becker County Human Services were happy to find the kids.

“Anytime Fitness had approached me about the idea and had asked me if we had kids here at Becker County Community Health that that could benefit from a back-to-school drive,” Vigen said. 

She said that the county gets calls all the time from parents in need of school supplies for their children, but the county isn’t always sure where to send the families to get their supplies. She said there have been other organizations in the past that have donated school supplies, but “it seems like the supplies are getting less and less resources for these kids.”

Piggybacking on Anytime Fitness’ drive, DL Fusion also put out a box for people to donate school supplies.

To distribute the supplies, Vigen said that she began taking down names of families that called about the need, and she let all other human services workers know about the supplies if they had clients in need.

“All I have left are color crayons. It went really well. They went fast,” Vigen said.

“It seems to be a warm and friendly response, just very grateful for having this for the community, for the kids,” was the feedback she received, she said. “I think it’s been awesome to put this together and for Anytime Fitness to approach us to help out the kids in the community.”

Follow Pippi Mayfield on Twitter at @PippiMayfield.