By Alicia Bauman
For the Herald-Review
WeeCare Hope Chest which was once housed in Deer River Church of God’s upstairs, and where mothers, fathers, grandmothers and friends had to climb a flight of stairs just to get there, is now housed in the former Surplus North building, in the area that was formerly a beauty shop.
The building is on the same block as the post office, and only one block off of US Highway 2.
Their first day open at their new location, was Thursday, Feb. 11, 2021.
Volunteer for WeeCAre Hope Chest, Marcia Dorry, explained it took about two weeks, to paint, set up the location and move clothing racks, children's clothing items, jackets, shoes, toys and diapers.
Dorry feels that it has been quieter, heavily due to the pandemic, but is hopeful with a more central location, more people will come through the door.
“We had one lady come in [Thursday], and she picked up, and she was having a hard day, as she was there for money, and we know it’s cold out,” Dorry said.
WeeCare Hope Chest gives away diapers in all different sizes from newborn up to size six and they have clothing from newborn to size five. Diapers are limited to a dozen at a time.
“We try and put them out seasonally, depending on what season it is,” Dorry said. “If we have the room, we will increase the sizes, and get some larger items.”
The clothing is newer, slightly used and they do get several donations to purchase brand new items.
“Donations are always welcome,” Dorry said. “We just want people to know we are here, and people can come in and get what they need, for free.”
WeeCare Hope Chest is open from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on Thursdays, which correlates with the hours of the food shelf. New Beginnings Pregnancy Center is going in right next to their location, which Dorry said will be a great connection.
So far, there are just the two volunteers, Robin Pederson being the other.
"We've had a lot of people though call, and say they are wiling to help if needed," Dorry said, who has been a volunteer for 17 years.
“It [WeeCare Hope Chest] was started about 21 years ago, at the Deer River Church of God,” Pederson said.
Pederson said it first started out with a congregation member that remembered what it was like to be a single, unwed mother.
"She remembered what it was like to not be able to get diapers, not be able to get clothes and it was her heart, to get something going," Pederson said, of the 320 square feet they use to house WeeCare Hope Chest in.
Over the years, it has even happened where they have received a call from the police department, saying they had to take a child out of the home.
"They needed clothes, diapers, and we were there to help," Pederson said.
St. Mary’s Catholic Church, Pederson said, has been very instrumental in keeping them supplied with diapers.
"They will do diaper drives. They have been very helpful," Pederson said. “We want to reach out to anyone that really needs help."
Pederson talked about the pregnancy center going indoors next to them, and said, “I think it’s a good fit, because we will be working in hand in hand."
Pederson added that donations can be by appointment or if someone needs something, to call her. She lives just two miles out of town and it is very convenient for her. Pederson said her husband is from Deer River, and she is originally from Indiana.
"We moved up here in 2002. Almost 18 and a half years ago, to pastor the church," Pederson said. "His heart has always been here in Deer River. Mine wasn’t, but God change it. And now I wouldn’t want to live any place else.”
WeeCare Hope Chest is open Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., but one can make a special appointment, by calling Marica at 218-246-2266 or Robin at 218-246-2437. For more updates, visit https://www.facebook.com/WeeCareHopeChest