CROSSing the community with support

CROSS Services celebrates 40th anniversary

Standing the test of time comes with hard work, commitment and passion for what you do. CROSS Services has all three of traits.

This year, CROSS is celebrating its 40th anniversary. Since 1977, it has been working to better the community and it’s residents.

CROSS Services is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. The community is supported by CROSS through: food programs, housing assistance, clothing and household items, and seasonal children’s programs. The CROSS Food Shelf provides families in need with all kinds of food, including fresh produce. (Photo by Alicia Miller)

CROSS Services provides food, clothing, holiday gifts, housing funding, and services to families and individuals that have a temporary need for assistance in the cities of Champlin, Corcoran, Dayton, Maple Grove, Osseo and Rogers.

Cindy Peterson, CROSS Office Manager, said CROSS was originally founded as a non-profit resource for local churches in the area.

“The churches were looking for a place that they could help a number of families,” Peterson said. “We started to providing food services. Then it expanded to a small clothing room, financial services, to what it is today.”

40 YEARS

Jon Pratt, Executive Director, Minnesota Council of Nonprofits said, “CROSS is one of just 121 Minnesota non-profits that were formed in 1977 that have continued their work for 40 years. Through several recessions and challenging times CROSS volunteers and donors have built a reliable community resource for families in northern Hennepin County. This staying power has made CROSS a trusted partner, organized and prepared to be there for the challenges ahead.”

CROSS Services Executive Director Elizabeth Johnson attributes its long and thriving success by executing three strategies.

There is a toy shop at CROSS that allows families to pick out a birthday present for a child of any age. (Photo by Alicia Miller)

The first is engaging the community via volunteers. Johnson said, “Our staff focuses on direct client work and the financial management of the organization, while CROSS had 1800 volunteers last year that contributed 24,000 documented hours to cut our costs and support all the other areas of the agency.”

The second strategy is road revenue support from many sectors. Johnson said, “We receive 30 percent of our revenue from grants/foundations, 28 percent from individuals, 18 percent from business organizations, 12 percent from faith communities and fund-raisers provide 10 percent of our revenue. The rest comes from program revenue from clothing sales and Meals on Wheels fees. Long term financial stability comes from relying on community support versus government grants and having a large variety of stakeholders.”

Currently, CROSS Services is providing families in need with school backpacks filled with all the supplies a student needs for the school year. Here, a soon-to-be kindergartner picks out her new backpack. (Photo by Alicia Miller)

Finally, the final strategy is providing foundational food and housing assistance. “Food and shelter are critical to getting life done,” Johnson said. “People understand that if the people can’t eat or have a place to go home to they will cannot possibly thrive, be productive, nor be contributing members of the community. CROSS Services has loyal support because people understand the vital and foundational important services we provide.”

CURRENT CROSS SERVICES

CROSS has grown their offerings for the 7,200 households in their service area with incomes that do not meet basic needs.

Peterson said, “Helping people is our ultimate goal. To do as much as we can and give them as much information as we can. And try and stir them in the right direction.”

She said there are about 500 to 600 families that are helped by CROSS every month. She added that some families use multiple services.

The food shopping/food shelf area has a color-code system based on their family size. The food area is set up like a grocery store, where families can get what they want and need. Peterson said, “At the baking area, a family with the color orange can pick any two baking items and they get to chose whatever they want.”

The clothing program through CROSS is modeled like a store, where families choose items best suited to their needs at low prices. (Photo by Alicia Miller)

Other items in the food area include: frozen foods, canned goods, snacks, breads, juice, bakery goods, meat, deli meats, baby food, and more. There is even fresh produce available during certain times of the year.

Peterson said local businesses, small and large, donate much of the food available at CROSS. “They all donate generously,” she added.

At CROSS, there is a need for hygiene products, pet food, baby food and diapers.

There are senior food deliveries, Meals on Wheels, and mobile pantry outreach sites.

Seasonal children’s programs include school supplies (a backpack filled with all the supplies needed for the start of school) and holiday toy shop (where toys are donated and then picked up parents to give to their children). There is even an area in the CROSS facilities where families can pick out birthday gifts for children ages 1 to teen. “This area expanded recently,” Peterson said. “The area is staged by age group.” The area even has some decorations for birthday parties.

The KidPack program distributes food to children in need for the weekend.

There is clothing available in a store area. Peterson said the clothing is available to purchase for 50 cent a pound or otherwise marked. “Teen clothing is need,” she said. “Mens clothing is always in need.”

Household items area also available, such as lamps, luggage, glasses, and more.

Social services and resources such as financial assistance, counseling referrals, and clothing assistance provide comprehensive care for their community in need.

The community shows its gratitude for CROSS through cards and thank you notes. (Photo by Alicia Miller)

During the past fiscal year at CROSS: there were 777,687 meals provided, 10,634 Meals on Wheels delivered, 902 children received holiday gifts, 800 children received school supplies and 15,620 packs of weekend food for kids distributed.

THE FUTURE

CROSS is always looking at ways to help those that utilize their services.

“We are continually changing to see what works best for our families,” Peterson said. “We are looking a self-check in and expanding our mobile sites. We tend to help everyone. You never know what makes a person come through the front door.”

She added the more they work with the community, the more opportunities they can make available.

The staff at CROSS is made up of 90 percent volunteers. Peterson said without that support, “I can’t imagine how many hours we would be here.”

More information about donating, service programs, fund-raisers, and volunteering is available at www.CROSSservices.org. All donations are tax-deductible.

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