A local Duluthian donated $1,000 in boxed meals from Vanilla Bean Restaurant to Emergency Room/COVID nursing staff at both Essentia and St. Luke’s. On Dec. 21, John Goldfine sent boxed meals to both hospitals for workers in the COVID units. His gift was in honor of the University of Minnesota Duluth’s men’s hockey team. Goldfine also encouraged others in the Twin Ports who are looking for ways to give back to consider sending meals to the local hospitals. This donation comes on the heels of another anonymous donation of $500 in meals to Essentia workers earlier this month.
JMR Financial Group donated volunteer hours and $5,000 to Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank. The donation supported Second Harvest’s Backpack Program, which distributes food to children in the area who are missing meals. Also, this November, JMR Financial Group volunteered its time to support Second Harvest as a team.
Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union raised more than $42,000 was raised for the Coins for a Cause initiative. In partnership with FOX 9, Second Harvest Heartland and other Minnesota food banks, Affinity Plus helped raise the money to help families experiencing hunger. Affinity Plus first committed to matching donations up to $25,000, then decided to match the entire fundraising total, with an overall contribution of more than $85,000. The donation equals nearly 250,000 meals for Minnesotans in need. The Duluth branch collected almost $1,300 and Affinity Plus matched that. More than $2,500 will be donated locally.
The Virginia Police Department's “2020 Shop with a Cop” campaign was successful. Community Resource Officer Lt. John Swenson headed up the campaign, hitting up local businesses to start the fundraising last summer. Opioid Project Coordinator Jada Strumbell worked closely with Swenson and was able to secure several private donations to move the efforts forward. In all, nearly $11,000 was raised, which provided gifts for 96 kids (36 families). They were able to reach kids in Virginia, Eveleth, Mt. Iron and Hibbing.
Other agencies who helped were: Eveleth Police Department, Breitung Police Department, Hibbing Police Department, and the Mt. Iron St. Louis County Sheriff’s Department. Also: Super One Foods, Walmart, Target, Northern State Bank, Frandsen Bank & Trust, AEOA, Locker Talk and Richie’s Machines. The following city of Virginia unions also donated: IAFF local union #390 (Fire Union), LELS local union #195 (Police Union), MAPE Union and the City of Virginia AFSCME union. We also had a significant number of private donations to include a donation from Mayor Larry Cuffe. Staff at the Target in Virginia assisted in wrapping many of the gifts. The Virginia Public Library staff volunteered to stand in as worker elves and wrapped gifts.
On Dec. 18, "Blue Santa" made the rounds with members of the Virginia Fire Department acting as his sleigh. Members of the Saint Louis County Sheriff’s Department and volunteer worker elves assisted Blue Santa with delivering presents to the surprise of the children that found their way onto Blue Santa’s list.
National Bank of Commerce committed to donating $500 to each of the following organizations: The Salvation Army of Superior, The Salvation Army of Duluth, Damiano Center of Duluth, NW WI Community Services Agency Inc. of Superior, Faith UMC Food Pantry of Superior, CHUM Food Shelf of Duluth, Union Gospel Mission of Duluth, The Salvation Army of Cloquet, The Salvation Army of Hibbing and Rural Care and Share Food Shelf of Poplar.
On top of that, National Bank of Commerce also donated $1,500 to the NOW (Nutrition on Weekend)/Backpack program at Second Harvest Northern Lakes Food Bank as well as $1,500 to the United Way of NE MN's Buddy Backpack program.
National Bank of Commerce is headquartered in Superior and also has locations in Duluth, Esko, Hermantown, Hibbing, Poplar and Solon Springs.
In November 2019, the UW-Superior Foundation and the Lake Superior Research Institute announced a new Superior Floating Classroom initiative to re-establish hands-on learning and research aboard a Lake Superior vessel. The project received another major boost recently with a $100,000 challenge gift from UWS alumni Bill and Lynne Rogers. The Rogers’ gift will be used to match additional contributions up to $100,000, bringing the project closer toward the purchase of the vessel and its educational and conservation mission on the waters of Lake Superior.
The Rogerses said their support of this project is an outgrowth of their love for Lake Superior and the significant role it has played in their lives. For years, Bill owned and operated a chandlery business in Superior, providing supplies and equipment for ships arriving and departing from the Superior-Duluth harbor.
LSRI is in a two-year planning phase for the Superior Floating Classroom which has included convening a boat acquisition advisory committee with members from the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S.DOT Maritime Administration and regional experts.
LSRI successfully ran the L.L. Smith Jr. research vessel and program from 1978-2012. The new floating classroom will be state-of-the-art and will allow for more passengers on board and a formal platform to make the boat available to educators or researchers from any discipline from anywhere around the world.
Hillary Nelson and Sarah Holland, both employees at St. Luke’s, played holiday music for patients throughout the hospital. In this year where so much has changed, it’s great to still be able to celebrate the spirit of the season with music. Hillary shared, “Music heals the heart. I needed that.”
Senior Airman Kristin Swanstrom was selected as the 148th Fighter Wing's Outstanding Airman of the Year for her accomplishments in 2020. Swanstrom, a 2017 graduate of Proctor High School, is a Tactical Aircraft Maintenance specialist, also called a crew chief. Swanstrom enlisted in 148th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, 148th Fighter Wing, Minnesota Air National Guard in 2017. She attended Basic Military Training at Joint Base Lackland - San Antonio in 2018, and technical training at Sheppard Air Force Base, Texas in 2018.
During this period, Swanstrom deployed to the southeastern United States in support of the 148th Fighter Wing's NORAD-tasked Operation NOBLE EAGLE homeland defense mission where she showed exceptional technical expertise. She is pursuing a bachelor's degree in Finance the University of Wisconsin - Superior and pursuing an associate's degree in Aviation Maintenance Technology through the Community College of the Air Force.