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Nearly 200 show support for BAFP at annual dinner
By By Jill Meier
Challenger editor

November 27. 2013 6:00AM
A crowd of nearly 200 feasted Friday on espresso chili-rubbed ribeye steaks with gorganzola butter, garlic mashed potatoes and Southwestern corn, which was topped off with four miniature-sized cupcakes in a gift box complete with a bow.

The pre-Thanksgiving feast was the fourth annual endeavor to raise funds and awareness for the Brandon Area Food Pantry, an emergency food assistance agency, which serves residents throughout the Brandon Valley School District.

“I thought the night was amazing,” said Linda Weber, executive director of the BAFP. “People care. They understand and they were there to help us.”

Through the first 10 months of this year, the BAFP has nearly surpassed the number of people the emergency food agency served through all of 2012.

Last year, 477 people received assistance from the Pantry. Through October, 458 people had walked through the doors for temporary food assistance.

Steve Kielman, president of the BAFP Board of Directors, shared the startling statistic at Friday’s fourth annual fundraising and recognition dinner.

“We are moving in a direction where we’re going to need this more and more,” Kielman told the crowd.

Two “Spirit of Giving” awards were presented by Weber.

The first award was presented to Brandon Elementary, which accepted by Principal Merle Horst on behalf of the students and staff who collected $7,678.45 for the BAFP last fall.

On Friday, Horst handed Weber a green envelope that contained more than $350, which was raised through staff donations during American Education Week last week.
The second Spirit of Giving award was presented to the City of Brandon.

Judy Zimmerman was recognized with a “Spirit of Volunteering” award.

“This person’s just there because she loves what she does,” are the words Weber used to describe Zimmerman’s dedication to the BAFP.

Kielman also thanked Weber, her daughter, Amy Weber, and volunteers Zimmerman and Diane Shomion, who staff the BAFP week in and week out.

“Anything that’s happened for this organization the last five years, you can thank this woman (Linda Weber), her family and staff, as nothing could be where it is today without them,” Kielman said.
The Brandon Area Food Pantry provides a five-day, emergency food supply to clients who are referred by a church or social services agency. In its four-year existence, the pantry has given food to more than 1,700 people, including 432 people so far this year.

The BAFP relies on donations of nonperishable food items and cash from community members. With the money, Weber is able to buy meat from Feeding South Dakota in Sioux Falls for a handling fee of only 18 cents per pound.

Weber reminds Food Pantry supporters that two boxes of cereal at a cost of $5 could be 26 boxes of cereal with the agency’s 18-cent per pound buying power.

An entourage of staff from the City of Brandon accepted a "Spirit of Giving" award from Brandon Area Food Panry President Steve Kielman. Accepting the award for the City are, from left: Jon Brown, Tyler Carda, Rollie Hoeke, Mayor Larry Beesley, Lisa Marso, Dave Swier, Dave Kull, Barb Fish, Dennis Olson, Mindy Hansen and Christina Smith. Photo by Jill Meier

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