Local National Guard unit to hold donation drive for Becker County Food Pantry this Saturday

The Detroit Lakes unit of the Minnesota National Guard is participating in “Operation Hunger Resolve,” a donation drive to benefit the Becker County Food Pantry, this Saturday, Dec. 11 at 1 p.m. Guardsmen will be marching from the Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Detroit Lakes, south on Washington Avenue toward the lake, and then turning the corner onto West Lake Drive before heading north on Rossman Avenue toward the food pantry. Along the way, they will be accepting public donations of non-perishable food items to be dropped into the rucksacks carried on their backs, with all donations to be dropped off at the food pantry that afternoon.

The outside of the Becker County Food Pantry, which has seen strong demand growth in recent years.
Nathan Bowe / Detroit Lakes Tribune

When the Detroit Lakes unit of the Minnesota National Guard learned that the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train would not be making its annual stop in the community for a second straight year, the guardsmen decided to spread a little holiday cheer of their own.

The Holiday Train brings in a significant amount of donations — both in nonperishable food items and cash — for the locally-based Becker County Food Pantry each time it makes a stop in Detroit Lakes, explained Sergeant First Class Ryan Raftevold.

Raftevold serves as the readiness NCO (non-commissioned officer) for the local unit, which is based at the Detroit Lakes National Guard Armory on Rossman Avenue — right next door to the food pantry.

To help the food pantry make up some of the loss in donations from the Holiday Train, the members of the local National Guard unit are preparing to hold an Operation Hunger Resolve donation drive this Saturday, Dec. 11.

"The unit has been busy and we haven’t done anything recently with the local community as far as giving back," Raftevold said, adding that it's "something we've wanted to do for awhile — to show more support for the local community, because they support us so well."


The local National Guard members will gather at Veterans Memorial Park in downtown Detroit Lakes on Saturday afternoon, then begin marching south on Washington Avenue at 1 p.m. The guardsmen will proceed south on Washington Avenue until the roadway curves west, then continue along West Lake Drive toward the Rossman Avenue intersection, where they will turn north toward the Food Pantry (located at 1310 Rossman).

Along the route, the guardsmen will be making periodic stops to accept donations from the public, both on foot and by vehicle.

"If you're driving, just stop and wave us over (after rolling down the window)," said Raftevold. "We'll come over to you."

Both cash and nonperishable food donations will be accepted. In addition, there will be a donation box placed inside the Armory at 1220 Rossman Ave. for people to drop off their donations during the week.

"We're open from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.," Raftevold said. "You can even drop off your donation Saturday morning, no problem."

Canadian Pacific to host online concert Dec. 18

Though there will be no Holiday Trains running in either Canada or the United States this year, Canadian Pacific will once again be hosting an online concert to benefit local food banks across North America.

Canadian Music Hall-of-Famer Steven Page and The Strumbellas will lead an all-star cast of performers in boarding the train for the 2021 "Holiday Train at Home" concert, which will be streamed live on Facebook, YouTube and the Holiday Train web page on Saturday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. (CST).

"With the 'Holiday Train at Home' concert, CP hopes to inspire support for food banks across North America," said CP President and CEO Keith Creel in a press release. "Though we are disappointed we again cannot bring an in-person show to communities along our rail lines, it fills us with joy to bring together such outstanding musicians for a performance that will help feed Canadians and Americans in need. The CP family looks forward to bringing the Holiday Train back on tour as soon as it's safe."

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