MARSHALL - On Wednesday, cake and ice cream were shared among those who generously donated their time to help with a Lyon County Relay for Life project. Afterward, those volunteers posed for a photo with an honorary gold base, signifying the last one of the 3,000 made in the past six months.
"Everybody says you should always make a point of having some significant piece," said Don Otterson, supervisor of the Marshall area senior woodworking group, which constructed the reusable bases. "All we wanted to do was have a gold block that says No. 3,000, the last one, just to prove we got through it. They've had fun with it, but it's a tiring situation, too."
Dee Dee Garrels, Relay for Life committee member, initiated the project, which involved making the wood bases to hold the candles inside luminary bags at annual cancer awareness events. Then, Otterson's crew took over.
Photo by Jenny Kirk
A gold block (center front) signifies the last of the 3,000 wood bases that the senior woodworking group constructed for Lyon County Relay for Life. Other senior volunteers assisted by folding 6,000 luminary bags at the Adult Community Center. Woodworkers and project representatives pictured (front left-right) are: Barb Lipinski, Center coordinator, Dee Dee Garrels, Relay committee member, Margaret Roberts, Norma Gile, Barbara Verkinderen, Kathy Truwe, Relay co-chairwoman. Middle: Melinda Gerlach, Relay co-chairwoman, Mike Appel, Bill Koska, Don Otterson, Dennis Johnson. Back: Gary Blough, Norm Postera, Ken Boraas, Bob Diermeyer, Harry Jones, Keith McKee. Woodworkers not present: Wayne Smith, Bev Wambeke, Les Sanderson, Doc Klein, Donna Slettedahl, Annette Holm, John Lund, Ozzie Arzdorf and Dennis Rafson.
"I kind of mentioned what I was looking for and gave them some samples and then a couple guys perfected it," Garrels said. "It will be perfect."
Previously, luminary bags were partially filled with gravel to keep them from tipping over, Garrels said, and doing that had some issues.
"Last year, we had some bad weather and a lot of the bags burned," she said. "When you put the candles in the base, even if there's inclement weather, it's still going to be stable. I'm excited to see them."
The next Lyon County Relay for Life event is scheduled for June 22 at the Lyon County Fairgrounds in Marshall.
"Hopefully, we'll have good weather," Garrels said. "But if not, we're still going to be there. We'll make it good anyway."
Having been around for more than a quarter century, the senior woodworking group is known for its dedication to church and public service work. But there's always a need for materials, which is why its motto is to "beg, borrow and steal" wood in order to assist with projects within the community. While selling only as much as it needs in order to have enough operating cash, most of the time the group donates its labor for community service work.
"We started this project the first week of October and we work roughly from 2:30-5 p.m. every Wednesday," Otterson said. "We had about 14 men and women here each week, sometimes more. And, people just took to the project. Some said they'd cut, do some routing, do some drilling. Some do the other things. It's been an interesting experience for us."
Two Marshall East Campus Learning Alternative students, Nathan Vick and Skyler Bahr, also made the effort to assist the project.
"Nathan came every day that we met up till Christmas," Otterson said. "He stayed here and helped people. He worked really hard."
Another group of dedicated individuals also assisted the project under the guidance of Barb Lipinski, Adult Community Center coordinator.
"We had between 15-17 volunteers helping to fold bags on six different occasions," Lipinski said. "They folded 6,000 luminary bags. I think, for them, it's a lot of fun, because in the process, they get to discuss all the things that are happening in the community and where they stand on the topics. They also discuss the Relay for Life and the impact it has in the community."
Kathy Truwe and Melinda Gerlach are the Relay co-chairwomen this year.
"It brings our community together," Truwe said. "It's wonderful."
Gerlach pointed out that the Relay for Life event is for anyone. She said their focus is on celebrating survivors and remembering those who have lost the battle against cancer.
The Relay committee members are appreciative of all the volunteers who came together on the project and are anxiously looking forward to using the new bases at the June event.
"We couldn't have done it without these guys," Garrels said. "It's amazing."