Pair of Wis. ‘grumpy old men’ hold food driveSure they’re getting older, but food drive elder statesmen Jerry Carter and Mel Germanson say nothing short of divine intervention can keep them from standing in the cold for two days collecting for the local food pantry.
By: By Phil Pfuehler, Forum Communications Co., The Jamestown Sun
Sure they’re getting older, but food drive elder statesmen Jerry Carter and Mel Germanson say nothing short of divine intervention can keep them from standing in the cold for two days collecting for the local food pantry.
“Heck, do you think we have time to just sit around the house all day?” asks 79-year-old Jerry Carter. “There always something to be done, and this is one of them.”
‘This’ refers to the 19th year that Carter will be curbside collecting food for the needy at Veterans Park downtown. The dates are all day until dark Monday and Tuesday, Nov. 29 and 30.
“As the time gets nearer, we get asked, ‘Are you doing the food thing again this year?’ and ‘When will it be?’” said youthful sidekick Mel Germanson, 78, who joined Carter’s one-man cause in 1996, four years after it began. “Well, here we are. We’re back for more.”
Carter is a retired 3M senior technologist. Germanson spent 36 years at UW-River Falls before retiring as registrar.
Officially, the two will man their collection post from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. next Monday and Tuesday. But Carter quickly said, “We actually get there earlier and stay later,” and Germanson adds, “We don’t close up if there are people around trying to give.”
Canned and packaged food plus paper products are always needed at the River Falls Food Pantry.
At the pantry’s new location — the old Mr. Movies at 222 N. Main St. — there are freezers and a refrigerator, so donors to Carter and Germanson can bring fresh produce, as well as eggs, cheese, milk and even meats that come from a grocer or licensed butcher. Venison is also accepted if it’s processed by a vendor.
While they’re seasoned food-drive collectors, Carter and Germanson have lately relied on assistance provided by Karen Kielas, who works at WESTconsin Credit Union.
As she has the past four years, Kielas will again prop up the grumpy old men. They, in turn, kindly refer to her as “their intern.”
Germanson said graduating from such an internship requires dedication and endurance.
“This is the school of hard knocks, and you just don’t have it all learned in four or five years,” he said.
Phil Pfuehler is a reporter at the River Falls (Wis.) Journal, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.