Residents at Lighthouse of Waconia and volunteers from Freshwater Church recently banded together in an effort to provide sandwiches for the homeless in the Twin Cities.
On Aug. 9, with the help of more than 80 volunteers, the effort was able make nearly 4,000 sandwiches that were then distributed throughout the night in the Twin Cities by the 363 Days organization.
Lighthouse intern Kylie Seiffert, who spearheaded the project, said she was inspired by a similar effort she was part of during high school in Chaska.
“I had done this before,” Seiffert said. “So we had brought this to the attention of (Vince Beckel) our director here.”
After hearing the plan, Beckel was on board with the effort.
“I think any time that we can get people together for a common cause, anything we can do to help other people — even if it does not directly affect our community for the homeless, it directly affects our greater community,” Beckel said.
Seiffert said that Freshwater Church offered to send volunteers as part of the church’s weekend of service, and church officials said that anywhere between 50 to 100 volunteers would be at Lighthouse to take part in the effort.
“Freshwater is a church that wants to make an impact on our communities,” said BJ Shelly, Waconia Campus Pastor, in a press release on the weekend of service.
After securing volunteers, Seiffert put the plan in action.
“I started organizing from there and contacted 363 Days and they loved it,” Seiffert said.
She said that her original goal for the day was to make 2,000 sandwiches, but through the dedication and assistance of volunteers, Lighthouse staff and residents, that goals was surpassed and nearly doubled.
“We surpassed the 2,000 mark very, very quickly. We had an hour-and-a-half to make these sandwiches, and within, I’d say 40 minutes, we were already at 2,000,” Seiffert said.
Allan Law, the founder of 363 Days, picked the sandwiches up and transported them back to the metro, where there were distributed from 9 p.m. to 10 a.m. According to estimates from 363 Days, there are 7,000 homeless people in the Twin Cities on any given night, with more than 2,200 of those being children younger than 17.
“He is delivering on the streets. He is going under all the bypasses in Minneapolis and he does all the homeless shelters,” Seiffert said. “We thought we could help him out just by making the sandwiches.”
Seiffert said the volunteer project ties in with the philosophy that Lighthouse residents live by.
“Our residents really strive to live life on purpose, and by getting them involved in a service project to give back to the homeless was a way to help them live life on purpose,” she said.
“For us to be able to have local church work with our resident and our team members, I thought was incredible and amazing for a lot of people,” Beckel said. “I thought Kylie had done a great job in working with the church and pulling this all together.”
Beckel said the sandwich-making initiative was a first for Lighthouse.
“We have done things with intergenerational – we have schools come and they will do special projects. We also do letters to servicemen that are currently out there. This was the first time that we had this large a group come in,” he said. “I thought it turned out to be a great event. A lot of team members and a lot of the residents that were involved thought that it was a really cool deal to work side-by-side with others to help other people.”
Seiffert said that the event would not have been possible without the support of local and regional businesses and partners.
Help for the event came from Quinten Junk and Martin Brothers Distributing in Cedar Falls, Iowa; Dave Heddinger with Baker Boys; John Murphy with Rotella Bread; Mackenthun’s Fine Foods; Freshwater Church; and Lighthouse staff and residents.
“Every one of you made a huge difference in the lives of those in need,” Seiffert said. “Thank you for allowing us to take part in this project and fulfill our mission of helping our residents Live Life on Purpose.”
Contact Jason Schmucker at [email protected]