Guest commentary: Church unites to fight hungerIn 1978, Vi Lampi had an idea.
By: Crystal Emerson, United Church of Two Harbors, Lake County News Chronicle
In 1978 Vi Lampi had an idea. The council minutes at the United Church of Two Harbors reflect that her Social Concerns committee would like to “work up something on World Hunger” and in 1979, the first beef dinner for world hunger was held. That dinner raised $900 and a tradition was born.
Since that time, at least one beef dinner has been held each year and for a little more than a decade, beef dinners were held in the spring and the fall with the funds going to hunger programs. In 1991, there was no fall dinner, as the fellowship hall was undergoing extensive renovation. In 1998, the spring dinner was dropped.
The auction portion of the fundraiser has been going on just as long, and according to Bill Hermanson,long- time auctioneer and current chief cook, it has been a great source of entertainment. The first auctioneers were Steve Stark, Dave Rossetter, and Randy Norenberg. Bill became auctioneer when Steve moved away. He recalls some wild bidding that resulted in loaves of homemade bread going for $25-$30, and pies donated by Lenore Hanson could go for $30-$50. One pie, donated by Tom Baldes fetched a record-high $72. Holy sweet-tooth! Other popular items have been Japanese lanterns from the gardens of Pat Kane and Gloria Norenberg, rolls from Hazel Blaisdell, fudge from Louie Bangsund, salsa from Crystal Emerson and produce from many gardens.
Some folks donate services such as music lessons or handyman services, which also draw impressive bids. Of course, the auction accepts almost any item and this has resulted in some “white elephant” type items that might be paired with a nice loaf of bread, so they fetch a fair price.
Jo-Ann Rossetter recalls a time when she and another bidder were in fevered competition over a box of children’s books. The bid went back and forth--$20, $25, $30-- as the price went up to $40 for the box (this was 1979, mind you), it was finally agreed that each bidder would pay half and divvy up the books.
In recent years, the auctioneers have changed and sometime in the late 1990’s, Louise Anderson became the first female auctioneer.
The first cooks were Clarence Rodvold, Ted Blaisdell, Louie Bangsund, Orville Simonson and Lenny Nauha. Bill says they were a tight group and didn’t let in the “young guys” like Bill Hermanson and Randy Norenberg for many years.
Bill began his tenure as chief cook (with the original recipe of course) in 2006, learning from Louie Bangsund, the remaining member of the original group. The gravy recipe is one from Hazel Blaisdell, who made it herself until 2009. Karen Hermanson has taken over the gravy-making since then. Bill says each dinner has served up to 120 people, and that prior to 1993, all the dishes were done by hand. Many times the dirty plates had to be collected, washed and put back into service.
Since that first dinner in 1979, more than $53,000 has been raised for various programs, mostly hunger- related. In 1993, 1/3 of the proceeds were used for flood victims. Some of the programs that have benefited from this fundraising have been our local food shelf, CHUM, Loaves & Fishes, Damiano Center, Union Gospel Mission, Second Harvest Food Bank, programs supported by the United Methodist Church and the Presbyterian Church USA, and Heifer International.
For a few years, a silent auction has been held as well as the traditional auction. This year, the Missions and Social Concerns Committee decided to change the format by substituting a bazaar for the silent auction. We are expecting some great handmade things such as home-canned goods, craft work, baked goods, and garden produce to offer for sale to our dinner guests.
This year’s beef dinner, bazaar and auction for World Hunger will be held Friday, Sept. 28, starting at 5 p.m. Dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m., with the traditional auction to follow atapproximately 6:30 p.m. The cost of the dinner is $8.00. Come join the fun – it’s a great meal at a reasonable cost for a great cause, and you can do a little shopping as well.