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Senior Lifestyles

Seniors gather to feed homeless

8/4/2011 - West Side Leader
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By Maria Lindsay

 

Kathryn Pinter celebrated her 90th birthday with treats and other members of the Brown Baggers at Fairlawn Lutheran Church July 27.
FAIRLAWN — Kathryn Pinter recently celebrated her 90th birthday putting together bagged lunches for those in need.

“I am not able to do a lot of things these days, but I help where I can,” she said.

Pinter, a resident of Norton and a member of Fairlawn Lutheran Church, said she started the lunch bagging program, dubbed Brown Baggers, in March 1999 with Elmer and Ruth Gaug, who had seen a similar program in another church. The Gaugs are now deceased, she said.

The Brown Baggers gather on the fourth Wednesday of each month to pack 100 brown paper bags with a meat and cheese sandwich, fruit and a cookie. During the holidays, the group will include an extra treat. The finished bagged lunches are then delivered to St. Bernard-St. Mary Parish Catholic Church’s hunger program, which offers food to those who are homeless, according to Pinter.

Pinter said the effort was launched with $200 in seed money from the Aid Association for Lutherans, which became Thrivent after joining with the Lutheran Brotherhood. The group got another $800 before its first year ended and have never needed to ask the church for a subsidy since, instead relying on donations, according to Pinter.

Fairlawn Lutheran Church’s Brown Baggers pack lunches for the homeless. The group includes the following: (on the left, front to back) LaDonn Eckberg, Judye Matson and Jacquie Kyle; and (on the right, front to back) Kathryn Pinter, Eileen Wahl, Ruth Wigand and Vi Bahm.
Photos: Maria Lindsay
Today, the group includes Ann and Jessica Congeni, Phyllis and “Woody” Woodward, George and Eileen Wahl, Jacquie Kyle, Ruth Wigand, Vi Bahm, Gail Newbaur, Fred Pinter, Judye Matson, LaDonn Eckberg, Judy Johnson and Judy Rosebrock. Originally, it also included Dolores Washer and Vivian Lindgren, who have since moved, she said.

The group’s efforts include making sandwiches and packing the bags, which takes about 20 to 30 minutes, according to Pinter. She added the Brown Baggers are very organized and the process runs smoothly. The bagging effort begins with shoppers who make purchases of food, bags, napkins and sandwich baggies ahead of time.

Ann Congeni said the Brown Baggers take pride in shopping for bargains to keep their costs under control.

“We try to make our funds go as far as we can,” she said.

In addition to wanting to continue a program she believes is sorely needed, especially today, Pinter said she has stayed with the program for the fellowship.

“I don’t want to turn it off,” she said.

Despite her age and four surgeries on her knees and hips, Pinter said, “It is not my time to relax.”

In addition to packing lunches, Pinter served as the bookkeeper for the Brown Baggers until recently, and also worked in the Braille ministry of the church for 20 years, as well as a greeter.

“There are some things you want to do just to help others,” she explained. “I have trained others in the group to ensure the program will continue.”

On July 27, the group packed lunches and then enjoyed homemade muffins to celebrate Pinter’s 90th birthday, which was July 13.

Eileen Wahl said they all enjoy participating in the program.

“Doing something for the homeless gives us a good feeling,” she said.

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