MANY OF THE VOLUNTEERS and clients who participated in the GRAFIA Rake the Town event Oct. 26 gathered at area churches for a meal and to fellowship about the day’s activities. Here a group from Elk River posed for a photo at the Elk River Lutheran Church. (Submitted Photo).

It was a beautiful day to Rake the Town(s)

Contributing Writer
Bill Morgan
Over 335 volunteers visited over 65 homes in the Sherburne County Oct. 26 to help elderly and incapacitated homeowners rid their yards of fallen leaves. 
The event was called "Rake the Town" and is sponsored by Great River Area Faith In Action (GRAFIA), located on Edgewood St. in Becker. 
Event Coordinator Lisa Kollar organized the event where volunteers from 10 communities spread out and come to the aid of senior citizens in their cities and towns.
Kollar had teams and individuals map out and visit homes located in Becker, Big Lake, Clear Lake, Monticello, Otsego, Elk River, Zimmerman, Princeton, Rogers and St. Michael. The groups arrived at homes — mostly in the morning — then spent several hours raking leaves, rearranging yards and hauling debris to a local compost site.
The weather cooperated with the sun showing up in the early morning hours and the temperatures soaring to the mid-fifties. Despite the blisters and sore backs, all of the volunteers were grateful and honored to provide a needy service to the local elderly.
The day concluded with the groups of volunteers attending a “Gather Round” at three local churches — Grace Lutheran in Becker, Resurrection Lutheran in Monticello and Elk River Lutheran Church in Elk River — to enjoy a meal and tell tales of how their projects transpired throughout the day.
“I heard from many of the volunteers that said it was a joy to serve,” said Kollar as she mingled with volunteers at Grace Lutheran in Becker. “I am so thankful to all the volunteers and the help they provided.”
GRAFIA was developed and exists to provide volunteer and caregiver support services to the local communities. To date, nearly five thousand people have given of their hearts in visiting, listening and sharing and using their hands and feet by raking, driving and cleaning. 
“I got to meet a lot of new people through this event and learned a lot about how their days went through conversations,” said Kollar. “We had no shortage at all in volunteers and all groups seemed to come away from Rake the Town feeling they helped out in some small way.”
Kollar and GRAFIA would like to thank all the volunteers, all the donators and all the churches that helped make the day a success. They’d also like to give a shout out to many people who couldn’t participate in the day’s event, but found a way to be part of it by donating rakes, pickup trucks and food for the workers.
For more information on Rake the Town or other GRAFIA activities, contact Lisa Kollar by phone at 763-263-4277 or by email at


(From left) Lexi Freund (Big Lake), Betsey Cornelius and Ben Cornelius (Nowthen), Gunner Dorweiler and Colton Dorweiler (Princeton), Ben Manning (Zimmerman), Bailey Dorweiller (Princeton) and Salene Krueger (Big Lake.) The county fair runs from July 16-19. (Photo by Ken Francis.)

Dr. Lola Sutherland is retiring from clinical practice after 33 years in the Big Lake community. (Photo by Jennifer Edwards.)

SMITTY’S AMATEUR FIDDLERS CONTEST drew 22 musicians to compete in Big Lake this year. They were accompanied by Gilmore Lee.

LEE GERHARDSON, 47, from New London, was found dead in Big Lake near the swimming beach in 10 feet of water Monday. Cause of death is unknown at this time but foul play is not suspected.

Adopt-a-Road participants volunteer for Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) and work to clean roadsides that border and bisect refuge land. This spring, from April to June, approximately six individuals, three families, and seven groups, such as boy and girl scouts and 4-H groups, volunteered to clean countless miles of roads. (Submitted photo.)