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Rock County Red Arrow kicks off 51st year of fundraising

LUVERNE -- Fifty-one years ago, a group of Rock County individuals gathered in hopes of raising money to help the less fortunate in their hometowns. In the years since, hundreds of thousands of dollars has been raised to help agencies who rely on...

LUVERNE -- Fifty-one years ago, a group of Rock County individuals gathered in hopes of raising money to help the less fortunate in their hometowns. In the years since, hundreds of thousands of dollars has been raised to help agencies who rely on those funds for programming.

The 2016 Rock County Red Arrow campaign kicks off Monday, with this year’s goal again set at $50,000. All of the money, including any extra that may come in after the goal is met, will be distributed among 29 agencies.

Dianne Ossenfort, Rock County Red Arrow chairperson, said this year’s campaign highlights the Luverne Senior Citizens Center and the Luverne Public School’s Big Buddies program.

“We are going from youth to seniors and hoping we can impact Rock County residents in between those ages,” Ossenfort said.

Donations made to Red Arrow are given to regional organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, the Southwest Crisis Center, Southwest Youth Services, A.C.E. of Southwest Minnesota, Helping Hands Pregnancy Center, ARC Southwest Minnesota, the American Red Cross and Girl and Boy Scout groups, as well as Rock County agencies including ATLAS, Luverne Street Music, the Mary Jane Brown Intergenerational Program, Rock County Opportunities, Rock County Relay for Life and Sanford Luverne Hospice, among others.

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The American Diabetes Association of Minnesota, Volunteers In Mercy, USO, Special Olympics and the Salvation Army are also benefactors.

“The last two years we have exceeded our goal,” said Ossenfort, noting that the goal was set at $50,000 for the first time last year to mark Rock County Red Arrow’s 50th anniversary. She said when the organization formed in 1965, its first campaign was to raise $3,000.

“Back then, that was a huge sum,” she said.

Today, Rock County Red Arrow is led by a seven-member volunteer board of directors. The group leads the fundraising campaign and oversees the application process from agencies seeking financial assistance.

“We, as a board, feel that it’s a good way to give back to our community,” Ossenfort said. “Our community seems to be so gracious and so generous.”

Ossenfort said Rock County Red Arrow touches many people through the agencies that receive funding.

For instance, the dollars given to the Mary Jane Brown Intergenerational Program help fund events that bring together students from Luverne’s elementary and middle school with residents of the care center. They play cards together, make crafts and tell stories.

“It’s just a real good learning experience for the students and a great way for the older generation to tell stories to the young,” Ossenfort said.

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The Big Buddies program, one of those highlighted in the 2016 Red Arrow campaign, is a mentorship program that pairs children ages 5 to 12 with adults in a positive environment. The mentoring pairs spend, on average, one to two hours a week together.

“This mentorship opportunity is complimented by monthly group activities,” said Lisa Nath, coordinator of Rock County Big Buddies. “These group activities are made possible by donations from Rock County Red Arrow. … Group activities also give a sense of belonging, providing opportunities for learning, socialization, self-esteem building, teaching respect and manners as well as functioning within a group.”

The Luverne Senior Center, also highlighted in this year’s campaign, has used previous funds from Rock County Red Arrow to purchase new chairs at the senior center, as well as cushions and lighter weight tables.

“The new chairs and tables offer a safer environment for use by the seniors and for those who rent the building,” said Janice Fick, Luverne Senior Dining volunteer and supporter. “ We are grateful for Red Arrow’s support of all ages in this community.”

Ossenfort said having an organization like Rock County Red Arrow to gather funds for agencies in need saves time for agencies who might otherwise have to knock on doors seeking money.

“This one-time donation … certainly makes it much easier than to have 29 knocks at your door,” she said. “We just are so appreciative of the Rock County area for what they do in regard to the donations they give to the Red Arrow campaign.”

This year’s fund drive is Oct. 3-14. Individuals may drop off contributions at any of the donation boxes that will be placed at banks in Rock County, as well as at Glen’s Food Center. Donations may also be mailed to Rock County Red Arrow, P.O. Box 895, Luverne 56156.

The donations received will be distributed to the agencies at the end of this year.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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