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Pie auction raises more than $3,500

Hubbard United Methodist's check presentation to Meals on Wheels included (left to right) pie auctioneer Carl Wall, Pastor Laurie Kantonen, mission committee chairman Mark Larsen, Lutheran Social Services senior nutrition advisory board chair Bob Hansen and church member Tom Stetzler, who also serves on the nutrition advisory board and was the force behind the first pie auction in 2014. Lorie Skarpness/Enterprise.

Ten flavorful pies auctioned Sept. 2 at Hubbard United Methodist Church will help the Park Rapids Meals on Wheels program serve nutritious food to area seniors.

About 200 people attended the auction. The $3,575 raised will provide almost 900 meals at the suggested donation rate of $4 per meal.

"I am humbled by their mission to support this program, and it is going to be significant in assisting us in remaining strong and continuing to be able to provide high quality meals to seniors who need them," said Bob Hansen, chairman of the Lutheran Social Services Senior Nutrition Advisory Board.

"We serve over 30,000 meals a year. Our average donation runs around $2.70, so we're short $1.30 per meal. This donation will help us subsidize that. We end up needing to generate around $20,000 to $25,000 a year as a board to keep this thing running. People who are 60 or older are eligible, and no one is ever turned away for inability to pay."

All pies in the auction were homemade. The most unusual pie was a pheasant pot pie. Pecan, lemon meringue, cherry and cheesecake pies were also among those sold.

"When you are bidding $300 or more on a pie, you hope that it is a little bit special," said

"pie auctioneer" Carl Wall.

Wall said he made it clear from the start that the focus was donating to Meals on Wheels, not just getting a pie. "You try to create an understanding with everybody bidding that you're not bidding just for that pie, but you are bidding to help bring meals to a lot of people," he said. "It was a great outpouring of love and care and money."

Carl and his wife, Carol, have lived in the Park Rapids area for 12 years. They joined Hubbard United Methodist because of its focus on service and living out the Christian faith.

"It's a joy to be part of an active church that's focused on helping others and not just for the members who walk in the doors on Sunday morning," he said.

Wall described the pie bidding as friendly and spirited. "It was back and forth," he said. "Most pies went for $300 or more."

Mission committee chairman Mark Larsen said church board member Tom Stetzler, who is also a member of the Hubbard County Senior Nutrition Council, was the one who encouraged the congregation to start and continue this event.

"I contacted the pastor and asked Carl Wall to be the auctioneer back in 2014," Stetzler said. "He put so much effort and passion into it that we raised $3,100. It was more than anybody expected."

Pastor Laurie Kantonen said Meals on Wheels provides a valuable service in Hubbard County. "Our first pie auction was held when some of the government cuts started affecting the program," she said. "I am always very pleasantly surprised at the ability of our members to step up when there is a need."

Hansen explained the goal of Meals on Wheels is to help keep seniors in their home.

"It's not financially based," he said. "If they have a need or are just plain tired of cooking they can get meals. My mother was a prime example. At 87 years old, she had resources and funds but it is hard to cook for one person. She received a nutritious meal every day and we knew someone was stopping by and checking on her."

A new component of the Meals on Wheels program is delivery to rural areas. Stormy Stennes, the dining site manager for the program, said volunteers are needed to deliver meals on Thursdays.

"That program is for people living in Hubbard County but outside the Park Rapids city limits," she said. "We try to do as much as we can. We go 50 to 75 miles depending on who is on the list. People need to call in advance."

Volunteer drivers must have a valid driver's license insurance and will receive training from Meals on Wheels.

Stennes said around 50 people receive meals each weekday. "We do around 1,000 to 1,200 meals each month," she said. "We also do weekend meals. On Fridays, we can deliver three meals so they can heat them up them on the weekend."

Five churches deliver meals in Park Rapids: Hubbard United Methodist, Riverside Methodist, Calvary Lutheran, Assembly of God and St. Peter's Catholic Church.

Congregate dining is offered at 11:30 a.m. Monday through Friday at Court Apartments in Park Rapids. This gives diners a chance to interact with other seniors. Reservations need to be made a day in advance at 218-849-2141.

The third part of the meal program is the Diner's Club. Tickets can be purchased at Seip Drug in Hugo's, Northwoods Bank or Coborn's drug store in books of 10. Tickets can be used for one meal per day at the Great Northern Cafe in Park Rapids, Zappy's Cafe in Akeley or the Lake George Cafe. Those 60 or older and their spouse (even if younger than 60) are eligible.

Donations to Meals on Wheels may be sent to Bob Hansen, 18831 Eagle View Drive, Park Rapids, MN 56470.

Checks should be made out to LSS Senior Nutrition and specify on the check memo that it is for Meals on Wheels. One hundred percent of donations go to the meal program costs.

For more information, call 237-2798.