A tradition “good for the soul”

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Doris Wicklund (right) pays Linda Gieseke for some baked goods at the “Feed the Hungry” Sale at Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush. The event featured not only baked goods, but also fresh garden produce, jams, jellies, and more. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

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The “Feed the Hungry” Sale always has had a focus on supporting worldwide hunger, but over the years it has also developed into also a social event. “It’s just a day where people can just gather and reminisce about things and they sit for the whole time, drinking coffee and enjoying the whole day,” Lisa Wicklund, current organizer of the event, said. Back row (l-r): Doris Wicklund, Beatrice Dvergsten, and Lois Dvergsten. Front row: Alice Miller and Marian Everson. (photo by Ryan Bergeron)

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Those young and old came to enjoy the fortieth annual “Feed the Hungry” Sale, started by Regina Boese, held at Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush on Thursday, September 8, including these Greenbush-Middle River senior students. A special thanks to the GMR seniors and Mrs. Anderson for supporting the “Feed the Hungry” luncheon. The funds from this luncheon provide food for those who are less fortunate. (photo by Jan Wollin)

The event began in Greenbush in 1976, sparked by Bethel Church parishioner Regina Boese. The church’s parishioners donated their fresh vegetables to place on donated hayracks on a vacant lot between Ace Hardware and what was previously known as the Western Store on Main Street.

The Bethel Church parishioners raised about $300 from just vegetables alone in that first year, all going towards supporting the American Lutheran Church Hunger Program, but more specifically to helping feed hungry children overseas.

Over time, the event has grown and changed in more ways than one, but a focus on helping feed hungry people has remained a constant. The church’s parishioners and other community members gathered for the Women’s Fortieth Annual “Feed the Hungry” Sale at Bethel Lutheran Church in Greenbush on Thursday, September 8.

A longtime Greenbush resident, Boese grew up with the value of helping people. Upon joining the church, she wanted to get involved and did so in various ways.

“I didn’t wait till someone asked me to do something… I always volunteered for stuff,” Boese said.   

Having that helping value in mind, she heard from Esther Peterson about a fundraising event she started in Karlstad, raising $300 on just vegetables, all going towards feeding the hungry. So, Boese then decided to start an outreach event for the same cause at her church, spearheading the organizing of it for its first 15 to 20 years. She decided to hold the event sometime before September 15, to allow people to take produce off their garden and sell it before the “terrible” Minnesota frost arrived; the event still goes by this timeline.   

Calling the event her baby, she started it knowing people wanted to give, but just didn’t have an outlet to do it.

“People want to a place to give,” Boese said when asked why the event has maintained since the seventies, “… Hunger has been around and people want to help with it.”

Today, the event sells more than vegetables.  It hosted both a vegetable and bake sale, similar to a Farmer’s Market, from 9 am to 1 pm, and a BBQ, Salad, and Pie Luncheon from 11 am to 1 pm. 

To see more of this story, read this week’s edition of The Tribune in print or online.

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