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Blessing Bags for Christmas

As I sit down to write this article the temperature gauge on the outdoor thermometer reads -2 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m grateful to be warm and inside on a bitter cold day like this. Knowing just how blessed I am to have a warm office, a warm home, and a car that warmly and comfortably gets me from one warm place to another makes my heart go out to those who don’t have any of those warm blessings. My heart goes out to those who are on street corners with signs, all their worldly possessions in a garbage bag or backpack, begging for just a little something to help them in their poverty.
The hearts of the members of the Kelm family go out to those people as well. That’s why this Christmas season they took time out of their busy schedules to make a difference. They put together “blessing bags” for those in need. Blessing bags are one gallon freezer bags filled with items a homeless person might really need. They often contain things such as granola bars and other snacks, toothpaste and brushes, socks, and all kinds of other items. Jessica writes, “The boys got the idea after they put them (blessing bags) together at Camp Criox this past summer. After our boys attended Camp Croix for the first time this summer, they thought this would be something fun to add to the things we already do as a family. Then they were talking to their aunt about it and she mentioned their cousins did them as well and they decided how many more people could be blessed if they work together. So the charity ‘Cousins on a Mission’ was created.”
Jessica goes on to explain how the process works, “This year they decided to forgo exchanging Christmas gifts with each other and instead adopt two Senior Citizens for Christmas. They shopped together for the items they asked for on their list and delivered them in early December. They said it was one of the best things they have done and can’t wait to do that again next year, with the hopes of adopting more senior citizens. Some of them (blessing bags) will be delivered to Regions Hospital for any of the homeless that come in to be treated, they will be available for anyone who wants a few to keep in their cars and we are hoping to partner with a few other businesses to pass them out in large quantities at local shelter as well in the coming months.”
The Kelms have high aspirations for their plans to continue doing this in the future. “We would love to hear from anyone who would like to donate items to our mission or would be willing to talk with anyone who would like to start their own about how easy it was to get started.”

Many Ways To Serve

Maybe you’ve seen Sylvia around in the past, but if you’re relatively new to Crown of Life, you probably haven’t seen too much of her lately. Last year Sylvia moved out of her long time home in Eagan and moved into The Commons on Marice, a Community of Senior Living. She says, “this was something that was one of the better decisions I have ever made in my life.” her husband passed away in 2015. Moving to The Commons has opened Sylvia’s eyes to different ways she can serve the Lord and make an impact in people’s lives. That’s something she has been doing for many years.
Sylvia graduated with a B.A. in Elementary Education with a minor in music from California State University in Northridge. She was a TWA Air Hostess and a NWA Flight Attendant for many years, but remained involved in education as a substitute teacher. In 1973 she founded Tiny Tots and Little Tykes Pre-School and Child Care Center in her home. It was later housed in area churches, and for 21 years it was housed at St. Croix Lutheran in West St. Paul. Two years ago, the program was able to buy their own building across from Lowes in West St. Paul. For many years she poured her heart and soul into the children and families that came through Tiny Tots. In 2017 she officially retired from the Presidency of the Tiny Tots Board of Directors and now is an Honorary Lifetime Member of that board. Her many years of service there remain in her heart. Concerning those years she says, “Two of the greatest joys are seeing the former students return with their children to enroll in the program and also to see some of the children grow up and go to college and come back to teach at Tiny Tots. That just melts my heart and fills it with absolute joy. It makes it all worthwhile. Never would I have dreamt.”
Even though she has moved into The Commons and is retired, Sylvia’s heart for the Lord hasn’t slowed down. A year after she moved into The Commons, she heard they needed a local church to lead a Worship Service. Sylvia knew her pastors would be up for the task, but one hurdle remained…Who would play music for the weekly services? Sylvia thought to herself, “I have had more time to practice the piano since I moved here.” So… that’s exactly what she did. In her own words, “I practiced my little fingers off!” Now she plays piano for the weekly Tuesday service at The Commons and our three pastors from Crown of Life rotate leading the services. But that’s not all she does. She also volunteers and leads a Sunday afternoon Hymn Sing and Bible Story up on 4th floor in Memory Care at The Commons. “It’s probably the happiest hour of my week! I absolutely love these folks! In addition, I am currently playing piano and leading a 6 week Christmas Carol Sing-along on Thursday afternoons for The Commons residents. The group is really growing each week.”
Sylvia is a great example of someone who has had many changes take place in the past several years, and yet has found different ways to serve the Lord. She never would have guessed the Lord had such amazing plans for her as she moved into The Commons last year. “I began praying each night, right away after I moved in, before I fell asleep…Dear Lord, Thank you for letting me live here. Make me a blessing each day to people’s lives here and help me try to stay well, myself! I just didn’t know what God had in store for me. I’ve learned in my old age, to trust in God’s plan and to have faith for what He wants us to do. I think, for me, the biggest lesson I have learned is that He has a plan for your time and your talents….even when you’re hardly aware of it yourself! I love Proverbs 16:9, ‘In His heart, a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps.’”