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Local

‘Giving table’ helps make a difference during holidays

Store owner helps givers fulfill the needs of others

Lori Boekeloo of Hennepin, owner of Tanks Pet Store in Princeton, stands next to her "giving table," which she set up in her store to help connect people who wish to give to others with people who have needs they can't afford. Volunteers have responded in a big way, Boekeloo said.
Lori Boekeloo of Hennepin, owner of Tanks Pet Store in Princeton, stands next to her "giving table," which she set up in her store to help connect people who wish to give to others with people who have needs they can't afford. Volunteers have responded in a big way, Boekeloo said.

PRINCETON — When Lori Boekeloo of Hennepin sees a need in the community, she does her best to fill it.

The owner of Tanks Pet Store in Princeton embarked on a holiday mission to help those who can’t help themselves with a need. She used her South Main Street store as a meeting place for anyone in the community who wanted to meet up to exchange or drop off goods.

It started as a simple Facebook post asking “What is one thing you NEED that you cannot afford?”

The response, she said, has been great.

Volunteers rushed to help a family that was displaced from their home, bringing toys and even gift wrap to her store for the kids.

A woman who hasn’t had new glasses for eight years got an appointment set up to get some.

“The person who is buying the glasses doesn’t even know her,” Boekeloo said. “She knows of her, and said she is able and wants to pay it forward.”

Boekeloo herself was blessed with a new carpet cleaner.

“I never had the thought that this was self-serving, and I hesitated because I didn’t want anyone to get that impression,” she said, “But it’s been wonderful to see. I love my pet store family for this very reason.”

Boekeloo, a Hennepin native, said giving has always been in her nature. She says she never has seen the point in making another’s life harder than it has to be.

“I grew up in a very self-reliant family, so giving was always in my nature, but receiving was another story.”

Years ago, when Boekeloo unexpectedly became a single parent, she said she was thrust into a position of needing help — something she wasn’t used to and didn’t like.

Her philosophy changed, though, after an eye-opening conversation with a friend.

“She asked me, did I enjoy giving to others, and of course I do,” Boekeloo said. “And she asked me, why would you deny that pleasure to someone who wants to give to you?

“And my perspective changed then. You’re not a taker, taking something away from someone, you’re a receiver, receiving what another wants to give. It can be difficult to be a gracious receiver, but you’re going to give someone that pleasure.”

Boekeloo said she would keep the giving table at the store open as long as it’s being used.

“I love that it’s paying off for so many people,” she said. “You’re never going to become poor from giving too much.”

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