People in Lake Nebagamon have been anonymously sending meals to their neighbors through Patti’s Dockside for more than a week.
It started when owner/operator Patti Coughlin posted Sunday's daily special — corned beef and cabbage — on Facebook March 22.
“In less then 10 minutes from my post a local resident asked me to prepare 10 of these meals and pass them out as a ‘pay it forward’ to anyone I felt in our community that could use a comfort meal at this time,” Coughlin said.
The woman told her that she’d been daydreaming of sitting on the restaurant deck having dinner, and she wanted to ensure Patti’s would be there in the future. Coughlin set up a protocol, found a driver and got the meals delivered.
“To those that received a treat on your door handle this noon, you have a very special member of this community that wanted to show how much she cares,” she posted on Facebook.
The idea is gaining steam.
Monday, Patti's Dockside delivered 11 gifted scalloped potato and ham dinners. The restaurant is closed every Tuesday, but a local boys camp called to adopt a woman who will be getting meals daily.
On Wednesday, Patti's Dockside delivered 17 ‘pay it forward’ meals of garlic chicken and alfredo. Since then, customers have gifted between 10 and 15 meals daily. Coughlin reached out to community members, churches and school employees in the area to get names and addresses of people who can use the food most.
“Daily I get calls and personal messages to continue this effort, and I find this so overwhelmingly gracious to be able to help others out,” Coughlin said.
The restaurant is currently offering takeout and curbside service for customers; the gifted meals are the only ones being delivered. Cleaning protocol is being strictly followed. A driver leaves the food outside the door.
“I agree this is a scary time for all of us,” Coughlin said, but Lake Nebagamon is a strong community that cares.
She encouraged people to continue to support local businesses and churches from a distance and offer help to businesses that have had to shut down completely to keep them from falling to the wayside.
People who know of local families in need of meals or those who want to donate can call Patti's Dockside at 715-374-2334 or text 715-817-2643.
"No questions asked here, all I need is a name and address and my boys will get them that meal," she posted on Facebook. "Thank you so much for being such a great little town we live in."
Donors meat needs in Cloquet
A small business owner, a mom and pop grocery store and 100 pounds of ground beef started a food train rolling in Cloquet. Within 24 hours, it had provided food to more than 100 people in need.
“I think it hasn’t even begun,” said John Lind, who owns B&B Market Catering and Quality Meats with his wife, Kim. “There’s a lot of good people in this world.”
The grocery store they’ve owned for the last 32 years is at the center of the whirlwind of kindness. Lenny Conklin of Leonard Conklin Insurance Agency set the train in motion Tuesday, March 24 when he bought 100 pounds of ground beef.
The meat wasn’t for him. Conklin told Lind to wrap it up, mark it and give it away to those who needed it. Conklin likened it to a penny jar on the counter — If you need one, take one; leave one if you can.
Lind posted about the gift on Facebook.
“It snowballed from there,” he said.
An hour later, a customer walked in to buy 10 pounds of ground beef for folks in need. Local business owners, community members and even a Carlton County Commissioner began dropping by to donate money for ground beef, gift certificates and delivery charges.
“These people didn’t have to do it but they’re stepping up to the plate,” Lind said. “It’s a good feeling; makes your heart feel good.”
To spread it out, the gifts are small — a pound or two of free hamburger, a $20 gift certificate.
“But it’s something that they didn’t have. It’s an extra meal,” Lind said. “We’re just trying to spread it out so everybody gets something that really needs something.”
That included an older woman in Superior who called saying her refrigerator was bare. Lind told her to come on over.
Conklin said his gift was meant to be a small gesture, 100 pounds of meat and lunch for the grocery store employees to thank them for being open for the community. He didn’t expect the gift to go viral, but said he was very glad and humbled to see the food train gaining steam.
“We’ll get through this pandemic thing,” Lind said. “You know it’s going to take a while, but everybody steps up to the plate like this, gets together, we’ll make it.”
People in need of help can stop by B&B Market Catering and Quality Meats, 506 Big Lake Road, Cloquet or call 218-879-3555. Lind encouraged anyone who knows of people in need to contact the market, which offers both curbside and delivery services.