"It was fun to see the canoe fill up. We joke about taking the filled canoe down the Root River to Preston and the food shelf. We also have a little song that we sang every week to the tune of 'Are you sleeping?' The song emphasized filling the canoe and helping those who are hungry," said Chatfield Lutheran Church (CLC) member Elsie Narveson.

She was speaking of CLC's March food collection campaign, for which the congregation once again used a canoe to gather donations of food and household supplies to be taken to the county food shelf in Preston "that services all of Fillmore County."

The theme was "Canoe Do It?" and the collection to paddle more canned goods and boxed dinners to the food shelf was begun on the first of March.

Narveson explained, "The month of March is food shelf awareness month, and as a participant in the Minnesota FoodShare campaign, Fillmore County food shelves will receive a percentage of the undesignated statewide funds, depending on the amount of food and money raised locally during March. That month, March, is the only time of year that people can leverage additional dollars for their food shelf from their donations.

"The Fillmore County food shelf also participates in the nationwide Feinstein Challenge, in which $1 million will be divided among the participating hunger food fighting agencies, equal to their proportion of the total of food and money collected. The collection continues through April for that drive."

CLC's collection garnered 711 pounds of food and $380 in cash, and it concluded on March 29, when organizers took food to the shelf.

Throughout the campaign, CLC members shared in the message of "sharing" as the Rev. Mark Docken wrote a skit to illustrate how precarious people's lives and finances can be.

Narveson outlined the skit, saying, "We had the canoe up in front of the church and the kids were in it, and the skit was about it being tippy and how they needed to be careful... but they headed for some rapids and tipped and they fell out. They then talked about how sometimes the canoe tips over even when you are doing everything right, how sometimes you come upon things, like rapids or storms that are completely out of your control, and over you go.

"Some other kids came to their rescue... it is the same with many people in our area. They were doing everything right, but then they ran into medical bills, downsizing at their work, or a car breaks down unexpectedly and they need a godsend like the kids were, some help to get them through the difficult time and put food on the table for their family.

"It asks us to help with the food shelf, the question, 'Can-you-do-it? Canoe do it?'"

Narveson would like the public to understand "how much need there is and that just one can helps... and it's a joy to give."

She was pleased to watch "how excited people got as the donations grew."

The collection showed the congregation's love for others through their "can-do" attitude.

"I think they felt the love in what everyone was doing. Gifts were given with no expectation of thanks - to people they did not know. People give for the joy of giving. I think our church is a very giving church. They really get into the March campaign.

"We seek to follow the words of Jesus: 'As you did to the least of these, you did it to me.' I am sure we will have a special food drive again next March. We do collect food every month through the rest of the year also and bring the food to Preston food shelf."