Minnesotans are a week into Gov. Tim Walz's stay-at-home order, to slow the spread of the coronavirus in our state.

Many of us are in our homes, away from our loved ones and trying to adjust to our new reality. Others are considered "essential workers," and go on doing their jobs under the most extraordinary of circumstances.

But like a flower growing in a sidewalk crack, beauty, creativity, selflessness and just plain good news is there to be found.

Today, we celebrate those who are making the best of a bad situation.

A costumed visit

WDAY logo
listen live
watch live

Carolyn Keller, left, speaks to her granddaughter Myia Klitzka by phone from inside the Frazee Care Center. (Submitted photo)
Carolyn Keller, left, speaks to her granddaughter Myia Klitzka by phone from inside the Frazee Care Center. (Submitted photo)

With her mom, Carolyn Keller, in the Frazee Care Center and unable to take visitors because of coronavirus precautions, Jena “Ifer” Klitzka knew just what to do.

She and her family began dressing up and surprising Keller with window visits.

“She got such a kick out of it, she was so surprised,” Klitzka said of her mom’s reaction.

During one visit, Klitzka and her husband, Darrel, staged a fake jousting session, while daughter Myia, 14, provided commentary to Keller by phone.

More recently, the family got more use from some Halloween costumes: Jena came dressed as a unicorn, while Darrel was Eeyore from “Winnie the Pooh.”

But it was the jousting that really got Keller’s attention. She asked her son-in-law why he didn’t win the contest; he said because his opponent was a lady.

-- Editor J.J. Perry

Kelly Phillips, Lew Murray, Craig Bower, Ken Fox and Adam Harder spent their Sunday, March 22 by giving out 120 care packages to people age 55 and older. (Courtesy photo)
Kelly Phillips, Lew Murray, Craig Bower, Ken Fox and Adam Harder spent their Sunday, March 22 by giving out 120 care packages to people age 55 and older. (Courtesy photo)


Mahnomen volunteers pack and donate 120 meals

In about 48 hours, five Mahnomen Tribal Community Council members and five volunteers packed and delivered 120 care packages to elders age 55 and older, people with health limitations and families with children 8 and younger.

"It was a lot in a little amount of time," said Desiree Linden in a phone interview on Wednesday, April 1. Linden is a council member and is heavily involved in the care package efforts.

The packages were filled with supplies donated by the White Earth Crisis Management Team, Project LAUNCH and Forestry (Cedar). The White Earth Emergency Management Team and the Shooting Star Casino also donated $1,000, which were used for some food items, cleaning supplies and traditional medicine, Linden said.

"There was toilet paper rolls, toiletries, shampoo and conditioner, that kind of stuff," Linden said. "The majority of them (package receivers) had no idea and were very surprised and happy with it."

Each of the nine White Earth Community Councils gave the same care packages out to people of the council's choosing. Packages are still available by request. Community council contact information is available at whiteearth.com/community/contact.

-- Reporter Desiree Bauer

Karen Solberg was one of the recipients of the care packages. (Submitted photo)
Karen Solberg was one of the recipients of the care packages. (Submitted photo)

Happy 95th!

Because of the stay-at-home order, Lee Ferber’s family had to get creative to celebrate her 95th birthday March 27 at the Transitional Care Unit at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes. Ferber’s family got her a cake and spoke to her by phone, while she could see them just a few feet away outside her window. They greeted her with signs and sang a raucous “Happy Birthday” outside her window, with party horns and lots of love. Pictured are Ferber's oldest son, Mike Ferber, daughter Linda Anderson, son-in-law Howie Anderson and Moana, the Andersons' dog, who loves “Grandma,” Linda Anderson says. (Submitted photo)
Because of the stay-at-home order, Lee Ferber’s family had to get creative to celebrate her 95th birthday March 27 at the Transitional Care Unit at Ecumen in Detroit Lakes. Ferber’s family got her a cake and spoke to her by phone, while she could see them just a few feet away outside her window. They greeted her with signs and sang a raucous “Happy Birthday” outside her window, with party horns and lots of love. Pictured are Ferber's oldest son, Mike Ferber, daughter Linda Anderson, son-in-law Howie Anderson and Moana, the Andersons' dog, who loves “Grandma,” Linda Anderson says. (Submitted photo)

The mask-makers

Pat McDaniel has been busy during the stay-at-home order. The retired Detroit Lakes teacher has been making fitted masks to donate to health providers, including Ecumen in DL and a doctor’s office in Fargo.

She said she can make 10 to 15 masks a day.

“They’re not all that difficult if you have any sewing ability,” McDaniel said.

And she does: She’s a member of the Lakes Area Quilt Guild, and several quilters have been making masks.

Her husband, Ted McDaniel, also a retired teacher, said Pat is making the masks from a special fabric -- polyurethane laminate, or PUL -- that is moisture resistant and an allergen barrier.

“(The masks) need to be able to pinch on the nose, and stay on,” Pat said. “I also have a bottle of paper clips in my possession that are plastic covered.” She uses those to make the nose-pinchers.

How have the mask recipients responded to McDaniel’s donations?

“They can’t give us any hugs!” Ted said, laughing.

-- Editor J.J. Perry



Frazee students thank bus drivers

Frazee-Vergas Public Schools are delivering free meals via Anderson Bus to families that signed up for the opportunity. Some students are thanking the bus drivers for delivering the meals via handmade notes. Taylor and Madilyn Perrine decorated their meal drop-off wagon with two of those notes. (Courtesy photo)
Frazee-Vergas Public Schools are delivering free meals via Anderson Bus to families that signed up for the opportunity. Some students are thanking the bus drivers for delivering the meals via handmade notes. Taylor and Madilyn Perrine decorated their meal drop-off wagon with two of those notes. (Courtesy photo)

Game makes social distancing 'bear'-able

Teddy bears are appearing in Detroit Lakes windows, part of a global effort to make the social distancing and quarantines due to the COVID-19 pandemic a bit more "bear"-able for kids.

Bear Hunt DL challenges kids and families to go on scavenger-hunting walks or drives to find the adorable window decorations.

These bears — some stuffed, and some printed on paper — have been spotted in windows all around Detroit Lakes. In fact, there are now nearly 20 official Bear Hunt sites around the community, according to Laker Prep's Jessica Endres, who started up the Facebook group Bear Hunt DL.

EMBED: Bear Hunt DL

"Each of them has a number printed on it, so kids can keep track of which ones they've found," Endres said. "I figured we would keep them up for the duration of the quarantine. There are no prizes, it's just something for kids and parents to do as they drive and walk around together — something to keep their spirits up and keep them busy."

The Bear Hunt is inspired by Michael Rosen’s 1989 children’s book, "We’re Going on a Bear Hunt," which opens with the lines, "We’re going on a bear hunt/We’re going to catch a big one/What a beautiful day!/We’re not scared."

-- Reporter Vicki Gerdes

These adorable brown teddy bears have been waving from the windows of 19 Detroit Lakes businesses for the past week or so. They are part of a local scavenger hunt started up by a Laker Prep preschool teacher to help parents and kids stay active during Minnesota's stay-at-home order. (Submitted photo)
These adorable brown teddy bears have been waving from the windows of 19 Detroit Lakes businesses for the past week or so. They are part of a local scavenger hunt started up by a Laker Prep preschool teacher to help parents and kids stay active during Minnesota's stay-at-home order. (Submitted photo)


Garbage pick-up challenge

Third Crossing Bar & Grill in Frazee is challenging lakes area community members to pick up garbage as they go outside for a walk during the stay-at-home order. When people finish their walk, they should post a picture of the garbage they've collected to the Facebook post and will be entered to win a $10 gift card to the bar and grill. The winning name will be drawn on Monday, April 6, the post said.

-- Reporter Desiree Bauer

#EcumenStrong

Gene Lof paid a visit, via drone, to his father, Kip, at Ecumen on Tuesday, March 31. Lof, Jennifer Bristlin and Charlie Newland organized 
 Kip and other Ecumen members to stand outside the building, holding signs that spelled out #ECUMENSTRONG or holding individual posters with personal notes on their balconies. They also put posters spelling "We are in this together" below the balconies. (Courtesy of Gene Lof/Dr. Drone Aerial Images)
Gene Lof paid a visit, via drone, to his father, Kip, at Ecumen on Tuesday, March 31. Lof, Jennifer Bristlin and Charlie Newland organized Kip and other Ecumen members to stand outside the building, holding signs that spelled out #ECUMENSTRONG or holding individual posters with personal notes on their balconies. They also put posters spelling "We are in this together" below the balconies. (Courtesy of Gene Lof/Dr. Drone Aerial Images)

Aububon native's selfless choice

The first person who died in North Dakota from coronavirus was a Navy veteran and educator whose last act might have been his most selfless.

Roger Lehne, 93, died March 26 at the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Fargo. Lehne grew up in Audubon, and enlisted in the Navy at age 17. He started teaching in Waubun in 1954, before taking a teaching position in Mahnomen. He went on to become vice principal at Mahnomen High School.

The day after his death, his niece, Julie LaVoy, said her uncle refused to be put on a ventilator, making his family wonder if he wanted to save it for someone else who might need it.

“He showed us all how to live, and he absolutely showed us dignity at death, too,” she said.

On the Detroit Lakes Newspapers Facebook page, a former Mahnomen High School student wrote, “An amazing man who will always be a legend at Mahnomen High School! Rest In Peace, Mr. Lehne.”

-- Forum News Service

Roger Lehne
Roger Lehne

Birthdays celebrated with fire truck salutes

Students at Frazee-Vergas Public Schools can now invite the Frazee Fire Department to help celebrate their birthday.

"We will drive the fire truck up to their driveway, turn on the lights and siren, blast the horn...and give them a good wave," said Albert Doll in a phone interview on Wednesday, April 1. Doll is a Frazee Fire Department captain and came up with the idea after seeing another Minnesota fire department doing it.

The fire truck salute is available until school starts again or the school year ends. They'll bring one fire truck to each birthday child's house with a max of two firefighters inside, and will follow no-contact guidelines.

"I have about eight to 10 to do right now and they're all throughout the month of April," Doll said. "In the first 20 minutes (of the Facebook post) I had five confirmed birthdays."

Call Doll at 701-306-1161 or send a Facebook message to to invite them to your child's birthday.

The Lake Park Volunteer Fire Department is doing the same birthday salute for students in the Lake Park fire district. Call Assistant Fire Chief, Chris Bromeling, at 218-234-9594 for more information.

-- Reporter Desiree Bauer

Shelby and Paige Baumgart, daughters of Mike and Denelle Baumgart, celebrated their 9th birthday this week. They are third-graders at Frazee Vergas Elementary. (Submitted photo)
Shelby and Paige Baumgart, daughters of Mike and Denelle Baumgart, celebrated their 9th birthday this week. They are third-graders at Frazee Vergas Elementary. (Submitted photo)

Volunteer DL connecting residents

A collective, community-wide effort was organized in mid-March to connect people wanting to help with those in need of some helpful services. What began as a handful of volunteers from the Detroit Lakes Police Department delivering prescriptions to housebound folks, rapidly evolved into something bigger as the coronavirus situation escalated and more people kept coming out of the woodwork, wanting to help.

The day Volunteer DL got up and running, there were five registered volunteers and two people who had requested services. Two days after the Tribune published a story about the program, there were more than 30 registered volunteers, and they had already completed 10 requests for assistance.

To sign up for Volunteer DL, visit cityofdetroitlakes.com, email volunteerDL@cityofdetroitlakes.com, or call 218-850-3314.

-- Reporter Marie Johnson

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steve Todd delivers a box of essentials to a senior citizen who is housebound during the coronavirus outbreak. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
Detroit Lakes Police Chief Steve Todd delivers a box of essentials to a senior citizen who is housebound during the coronavirus outbreak. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)

Donated vitals and vittles

Eighteen volunteers showed up Tuesday, March 31, for an effort led by Becker County Energize to deliver 28 boxes full of donated goods to local child care providers and health care workers. Items included essentials like face masks, disposable gloves, Clorox wipes, diapers and plenty more, as well as treats of Girl Scout Cookies for health care workers at Sanford and Essentia, thanks to Midwest Bank and Girl Scout Troop 30933. Donations were collected curbside at Zion Lutheran Church on March 27, and will be accepted again on Monday, April 6, from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Many more masks, face shields and gloves are still needed.

-- Reporter Marie Johnson

Volunteers that helped distribute donated goods to local health care and child care workers did everything they needed to do while upholding social distancing guidelines, staying six feet apart from each other. (Photo from Becker County Energize's Facebook page)
Volunteers that helped distribute donated goods to local health care and child care workers did everything they needed to do while upholding social distancing guidelines, staying six feet apart from each other. (Photo from Becker County Energize's Facebook page)

Kids and teachers Zoomin'

Many day cares and child care centers are using Zoom, Skype or other online communication apps to help kids and teachers keep in touch during the shelter-in-place order. With most kids staying home during the two-week order, these face-to-face live videostreams let them talk and interact in real time, from their own homes homes or classrooms. Laker Prep Preschool, for example, has been having half-hour Zoom meetings every couple of days, with the kids and teachers at the preschool and kids and parents at home all tuned in for fun activities like show-and-tell and book readings.

-- Reporter Marie Johnson

A Laker Prep Preschool student watches his teacher read a book on Zoom. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)
A Laker Prep Preschool student watches his teacher read a book on Zoom. (Marie Johnson / Tribune)

School windows send a message

Almost every single window at Frazee Vergas Elementary was decorated with posters and hearts, sharing how much teachers and school staff missed the students. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)
Almost every single window at Frazee Vergas Elementary was decorated with posters and hearts, sharing how much teachers and school staff missed the students. (Desiree Bauer / Tribune)

GALLERY: See more photos from Frazee Vergas Elementary here

'A World of Hearts' spreads love

Earlier this month, as Detroit Lakes Public Schools students in grades K-12 prepared to transition from a 10-day "spring break" into an extended period of distance learning due to the coronavirus outbreak, paper hearts decorated in a rainbow of colors began appearing in the windows of local school buildings, day care centers, homes and businesses.

This is one of the windows at Detroit Lakes High School festooned with paper hearts Tuesday, March 24, then posted to the "A World of Hearts" Facebook group. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)
This is one of the windows at Detroit Lakes High School festooned with paper hearts Tuesday, March 24, then posted to the "A World of Hearts" Facebook group. (Vicki Gerdes / Tribune)

Photos of several of those heart-decorated windows soon began popping up on Facebook, with each post including the hashtag #aworldofhearts so they would show up on the A World of Hearts group page, which was created by a North Dakota woman named Mandie Gill.

“Sharing love through hearts posted in your windows,” is the motto posted at the top of the group's Facebook page. “By filing your windows with hearts your neighbors and those passing by will know we are in this together."

To see more heart-filled local posts, search Facebook using "#aworldofhearts detroit lakes mn" in the search bar.

-- Reporter Vicki Gerdes