WE CAN BE THE CHANGE volunteers from Saron Lutheran Church Chance Ottinger, Gayle Ahrens, Vera Habeger and Tom Stich pause for a picture after completing their projects. (Submitted photo).

Saron people can be the change

Staff Writer
Jennifer Edwards
The people of Saron Lutheran Church in Big Lake are rising to the challenge of making a positive change in the Big Lake community by volunteering to tackle more than five dozen tasks for people who need a little help.
Most of the tasks have been identified by Faith In Action. The 164 church volunteers will go out and work on 62 tasks at 24 different locations, says Scott Carlson, who is spearheading this year’s We Can Be The Change efforts.
Jobs included on the volunteers list include mowing lawns, trimming trees, removing unwanted items, yard work, painting, household repairs and some carpentry.
“It’s not really just about the work,” says Carlson. “It’s about taking time to visit with people and getting to know them. It’s about fellowship.”
By Wednesday this week, the group had already contributed 633 hours of service to the community. This is their third year of volunteering.
Sale Of Stuff
The youth of Saron Lutheran Church are planning a a grand garage sale to raise funds for their youth ministry and children’s programs. 
“This single fund-raiser will provide the bulk of our  funding for both,” says Youth Pastor Curtis Rieck.
This is the first time the famous Sale Of Stuff, one of the largest garage sales in the area, has been held since vandals broke into the church Aug. 1, 2012, causing extensive amount of damage to the church and sale items. Those items for the sale had to be disposed of and the estimated clean up cost for the incident is approximately $129,000.
Two 15-year-old males from Big Lake and a 16-year-old male from Monticello were arrested. Their charges included second-degree burglary and first-degree criminal damage to property.
An investigation determined that the suspects entered the church through a door found unsecured, removed three bikes and several other items. 
The suspects then used three fire extinguishers in the church and sprayed their contents throughout the building, including into an organ, piano and several electronic components.
But what came out of the incident was a massive outpouring of support for the church and its young people. 
A new youth program for all the young people in the area was formed with other neighboring churches as the incident drew the congregations together.
Sale dates have been set for July 23-26 and the young people are gathering donations now.
Items in much demand include toys, bikes, dressers, tools, furniture,  beds, nursery items, kitchenware and appliances. Donations can be brought to the church anytime.
Call (763) 263-2209 with questions about donations or to make an appointment to drop items off.


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)