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Detroit Lakes National Guard members gather nearly 1,000 pounds of food on their march to the Becker County Food Pantry

Members of the Detroit Lakes National Guard, Charlie company in the 136th Infantry Division, gathered 980 pounds of food on Dec. 11 during their march through downtown Detroit Lakes on their way to the Becker County Food Pantry. A food pantry official said he was grateful for the guard members dropping off the food for the community and hopes the success of Operation Hunger Resolve will lead to a continued partnership.

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Members of the Detroit Lakes National Guard, part of the 136th Infantry Division, accept non-perishable food donations for the Becker County Food Pantry from a resident during their march through the streets of Detroit Lakes on Dec. 11, 2021 as part of Operation Hunger Resolve. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)
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Operation Hunger Resolve was a resounding success, as Detroit Lakes National Guard members gathered nearly 1,000 pounds of food for the Becker County Food Pantry on Saturday.

The Dec. 11 march down Washington Avenue, onto West Lake Drive and up Rossman Avenue, to the food pantry's location had residents lining the parade route and ready to drop their items into the packs of guard members as they passed by.

"It's really important just because with how busy we've been the last few years, we really haven't gotten the opportunity to kind of give back to the community and work with the community to do something like this," said Capt. Zachery Hendrickson, commanding officer for the guard unit. "With recent events in the state and the nation, food insecurity is a massive issue and so we thought about what could we do to give back to the direct community that we serve in … and this was a great opportunity."

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Members of the Detroit Lakes National Guard, part of the 136th Infantry Division, accept non-perishable food donations for the Becker County Food Pantry from a resident during their march through the streets of Detroit Lakes on Dec. 11, 2021 as part of Operation Hunger Resolve. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

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The Detroit Lakes armory and food pantry are neighbors, which also helped make them the ideal candidate for the unit's service work, he said.

"It's an awesome group of guys and they were ready and willing to do this," said Hendrickson. "It really gives us an opportunity to kind of step away and separate from the grind, per se, and do something a little bit fun."

With no law enforcement escort from local police or the sheriff's office, vehicles pulled off to the side of the road as guard members marched by, with many motorists thanking the members for their service.

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Members of the Detroit Lakes National Guard, part of the 136th Infantry Division, unload non-perishable food items at the Becker County Food Pantry after marching through the streets of Detroit Lakes and gathering food from area residents on Dec. 11, 2021 as part of Operation Hunger Resolve. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

Some residents donated money to the food pantry instead of food; however, a final tally of the total cash donations wasn't available after the event.

"They give us a different variety of things that come in, things that we normally wouldn't stock and it just provides a little extra that will go out to our clients," said Brad Carlson, executive director of the Becker County Food Pantry. "It was very nice to see the community out in support of their national guard unit."

He also said this is the first year the local national guard unit has done a food gathering march, but, because of its success, they are already talking about holding another food march next year.

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"People were literally lining the streets just to watch them and so it was very nice to see that," said Carlson. "Like I told the (guard members), this will be gone in two hours based on poundage and weight of food, that's how fast it will go out through us."

He added that he couldn't be happier with the support from the national guard unit.

"We support them and they support us. We are behind them 100%," said Carlson.

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Members of the Detroit Lakes National Guard smile for a group photo at the Becker County Food Pantry after guard members carried 980 pounds of food donations through the streets of Detroit Lakes on Dec. 11, 2021 as part of Operation Hunger Resolve. (Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune)

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