March 05, 2021

DUTIFUL DONATIONS: Local Democrats donate food to Newton Salvation Army

Kramer uses portion of stimulus check to help others in observance of MLK Day

Carol Kramer stuffed her car so full of groceries there was barely enough room for a passenger to tag along. Her helper, Rachelle Tipton, had to arrive in a separate vehicle Tuesday to unload what seemed like an endless supply of donated boxed milk, canned food and other nonperishables for the Salvation Army in Newton.

Altogether, Kramer estimated more than $300 worth of food was collected by local Democrats for the Salvation Army’s food pantry. To pay for some of the food, Kramer used about $100 of her stimulus check issued to her by the federal government. She saw herself in a position to help others.

“When we got that stimulus check we just decided we have to share this for the people that do not even have places to get anything,” Kramer said, noting other Democrats would likely follow suit. “… So I got serious about it and started calling and encouraging people to do that.”

The donation was Kramer’s way of observing Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the eponymous icon’s work to advance civil rights and draw attention to other important issues like poverty. Jasper County Democrats also donated clothes to the PCM Clothing Closet for the MLK Day of Service.

For Kramer, it’s a tradition to serve the community on MLK Day, but donating to the local food pantry has almost become a regular occurrence for the longtime member of the Democratic Party. Why? She thinks it may be because of her cultural background.

“In my Native heritage, the most insulting think you can say about someone is to call them ‘stingy,’ and the biggest compliment you can get is that you’re generous,” Kramer said. “My mother was known as a very generous person … and elders were known for their generosity.”

So it would seem that trait has been passed down to Kramer as well. Either way, the Salvation Army is thankful for the party’s donation. Captain Janelle Cleaveland said the food pantry is now full of food, thanks in large part to Fareway donating the remaining Shugar’s grocery store stock.

As a result, a surplus of toiletry items and hygiene products have been given away in the bread line of the Salvation Army. Recently, the Newton branch has seen about 70-100 families in line on Tuesdays and Fridays.

In a year when people presumably had less to give, Cleaveland pointed out the Salvation Army was seeing generous donations and meeting is fundraising goals. During the holidays, there were so many donated presents that the Salvation Army Toy Shop Christmas Assistance Distribution gave each child got six toys.

“That’s the most they’ve ever got,” Cleaveland said. “The people of Jasper County have always been very giving, but this past year they were super giving.”

So far, that sentiment has extended into 2021. Even with the large amount of food received from Fareway and other donors during the holidays, Cleaveland said $300 worth of food “goes a long way.”

“We’re very blessed this year, especially with 2020 being as crazy and horrible that it was,” Cleaveland said. “A lot places collect food for us, and we’re very thankful for that. We need it all year round.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or