Be Local Everywhere Hits Minnesota

Be Local MN Team: Megan, Kate, Ben, Dan, and Brenda

Be Local MN Team: Megan, Kate, Ben, Dan, and Brenda

When a friend calls you to help out on the weekend, it usually means that friend is moving and you’re being recruited to haul a couch up and down a couple flights of stairs. The natural instinct is to say, “No, sorry I can’t help you. I’m organizing my spice rack this weekend.” You might go so far as to say, “Oh, I’d love to help you, but I have a paper due for school on Monday”, even though you’ve been out of school for 20 years. But then there are times when a friend calls you to help out on the weekend and it’s for something a bit more important than a positioning a piece of furniture. When Tyrus Books publisher Ben LeRoy calls you to help, you say, “Yes.”

Looking out the window, it’s clear that cynicism is running rampant. It’s hard to keep your head up when it feels like the world wants nothing more than to pull you down. Well, Ben LeRoy wants to push you up. Earlier this year, LeRoy looked out the window and declared to all who would listen, “We are not doomed!” This was the birth of his Be Local Everywhere project. Ben resolved to do volunteer work in all 50 states before the end of 2014. This past Saturday it was Minnesota’s turn to help those in need.

The Minnesota Be Local Everywhere team consisted of Ben, Dan Malmon, Brenda Reeves, Megan Sprangers, and myself. We chose to work with Second Harvest Heartland, the Upper Midwest’s largest hunger relief organization. They work to distribute large amounts of food, quickly, to get it into the hands of the people and families that need it most.

Our job was to repackage rice into 1-pound packages to be sent out to area food shelves and soup kitchens. After watching a brief video about Second Harvest Heartland, the team was handed hairnets, beard nets (a fantastic look on Ben, btw), and latex gloves. Ben and Dan scooped the rice; Brenda and I weighed the grains; and Megan and our new friend Luis sealed up the bags. Once we found our rhythm, the time flew by. Ben and Dan started naming their pours of the rice. They created The Bartender, the Statue of Liberty, and the You Can’t Do That on Television. Chaos rained during The Knuckleball, when the pour happened before the bag was in place. What can I say? Ask any baseball fan: the knuckleball is the most unpredictable of all the pitches.

While our crews were repackaging rice, there was another crew of volunteers repackaging apples for distribution. In our two-hour volunteering shift, the 2 crews packed 11,904 pounds of food! Second Harvest Heartland would make sure that families in need in Minnesota and Western Wisconsin would get that food as quickly as possible.

Most of the time when I write pieces for this blog it’s about fictional superheroes doing good in the four-color pages of Metropolis or Gotham. This weekend I had the opportunity to work with real-life superheroes. No capes, no cowls, just good people working for the greater good. It’s cool to be cynical and sarcastic. Quick with the quips has always been my M.O. So when a pal says, “I’m going to travel the United States and do good” well, the first response has to be, “Why?” Then you feel sheepish when your friend replies, “Because I can, and it’s the right thing to do.” Sure, we helped quite a few families on Saturday, but we got something out of it, too. It feels good to be active in your community. It feels good to do good because you can.

The Be Local Everywhere slogan is “Do good, wherever you are, whenever you can”. Do that and be a superhero in your own city.

Kate Malmon

Be Local Everywhere in Minnesota

Be Local Everywhere in Minnesota