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Sales of Christmas CD support Sibley ministry

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SIBLEY, Iowa — Producing a CD of Christmas music is something Jesse Dagel and some fellow musicians had contemplated for a while.

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“We’d start talking about it, but it would always be in December, and then we didn’t have the time to get it done,” he explained. “This time, we finally got it going early enough that we were able to do it.”

For Jesse, there’s the achievement of finally completing such a musical project, but also the satisfaction that its sales will benefit a worthy cause. All proceeds from “Immanuel: Songs Celebrating Christ’s Birth,” will go to the Osceola Love Bank, a Sibley-based non-profit organization that provides boxes of food to people in need.

“It was two years ago last June that we started it,” explained Jesse’s sister-in-law, Jessica Dagel, who had the idea for the ministry along with her husband, Josh. “There had been a time when we were in need of food, and there was no good means of keeping it anonymous that you needed food. After talking with some friends, they had a similar interest to start it, so we started meeting and got together ideas of what we wanted to do.”

The Love Bank concept is a bit different from other food pantries and is intended to supplement, not compete with, other assistance services already in place.

“We collect food through donations — either food or money —and we box it all up along with recipes to go with the food,” Jessica said. “So they’re not getting a random box of food and having to figure out what to do with it. We didn’t want to end up giving people a whole box of green beans and saying good luck. I have a family of eight now, and the other couples who started it with us are also families with children, so we wanted it to be things they could really use. People can usually get four to six meals from the box, depending on how big the family is.”

There are no income guidelines or other requirements to be eligible for a Love Bank box.

“If there’s someone who has a need for food, they just have to call the Osceola Love Bank, (712) 754-3784, and leave a message,” Jessica explained. “It’s completely anonymous. Right now, we’re the ones who are checking it. I just check the messages every day, get back to them and get them a box of food. We don’t ask about their income or even why they need the food. We’re just happy to get it to them.”

A recent food drive for the Osceola Love Bank garnered enough food and monetary donations to fill 50 boxes. At the moment, the ministry distributes an average of two boxes per week, but it usually picks up during the holidays, Jessica noted.

“It’s a lot of work, but we’re just happy to do it,” Jessica said. “It’s our family ministry, and God has laid it on our hearts to do it for a reason. … We’ve seen how God has worked it out: It seems like when we have a lot of food to give out, we’ll get a lot of calls, and when we don’t have much food to give out, we don’t seem to get so many calls.”

The Osceola Love Bank currently keeps its larder at the Dagels’ church, First Baptist in Sibley. They have begun to get support from other area churches and local organizations and would like to recruit more volunteers to help with the food distribution.

“We’ve been trying to get the word out by word of mouth, and we have been hanging up some posters, things like that,” Jessica said. “There are a few different places where food can be donated, but monetary donations are also appreciated, because if we don’t have the exact food that we like to put in each box, we’ll use the funds to go buy whatever we are lacking. In the box, we also have a coupon for bread, milk, eggs and butter to go with the recipe, and they can take that to the Sibley grocery store. We have to pay about $8 for each coupon that goes through. It’s just the stuff we can’t keep in the box.”

The Dagels hope the sales of the CD will not only help support the financial needs of the Osceola Love Bank ministry, but also create awareness for it.

The CD has 16 songs — a full hour of Christmas music — and features eight area musicians.

“Stylistically, the most dominant is probably Celtic,” said Jesse, who owns Jam Box Studios in Sibley, where the CD was recorded. “But there’s also a lot of folk, a couple of jazz moments, too —some chilled-out jazz kind of stuff — and a little bit of rock, so it’s pretty eclectic.”

The songs are all arrangements of religious Christmas standards, such as “Go Tell It on the Mountain,” “Come Thou Long Expected Jesus,” and “O Holy Night.”

“A lot of those old Christmas songs we really liked, but they don’t get a lot of radio play, so we thought it would be fun to get all of those on a CD and make it a totally about Christ’s birthday, not just a holiday album,” said Jesse.

The photo of a Nativity set on the CD case was captured by Sibley photographer Kelcey Schroder.

The CD is being sold at businesses on Sibley’s Main Street, as well as at Schafer’s Health & Gifts in downtown Worthington. Additionally, songs from the CD can be downloaded at www.noisetrade.com/sibleyfolks/immanuel. The download is free, but tips are appreciated with all proceeds going to the Love Bank.

Monetary donations for the Osceola Love Bank ministry can be sent to Osceola Love Bank, 402 Sixth St., Sibley 51249.

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Beth Rickers
Beth Rickers is the veteran in the newspaper staff with 25 years as the Daily Globe's Features Editor. Interests include cooking, traveling and beer tasting and making with her home-brewing husband, Bryan. She writes an Area Voices blog called Lagniappe, which is a Creole term that means "a little something extra." It can be found at http://lagniappe.areavoices.com/.  
(507) 376-7327
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