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Look for the helpers: Family asks for Mason City participants in 75th birthday train

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River Heights Drive 4

Angela Asche stands at the curb with Benson and Regan (and Regan's teddy bear) on River Heights Drive during the neighborhood's nightly social hour.

They say that if you need to hold onto hope in times of uncertainty, look for the helpers. Know of any other helpers? Help us highlight them! Reach out in the comments or submit a news tip.

April 28: Help a Vietnam veteran celebrate his 75th birthday

The family of Chuck Thome, a Vietnam veteran, 40-year Mason City resident and Pepsi retiree after 30 years, is asking those interested to help celebrate his 75th birthday by participating in a birthday train past their home at 926 N Adams Ave. on April 28 from 6 to 7 p.m.

April 21: Good Samaritans pick up litter on trail

Trash bundle

A bundle of trash cleared from a Mason City trail. 

An unknown someone picked up trash on a Mason City trail on Tuesday, leaving behind a message in chalk to remind others to pick up after themselves and throw their own trash away.

Zerbel Trail Earth Day group

From left: Katie Lowry, Ally Whalen, Jules Nuebauer and Reilee Whalen pick up litter on Earth Day (April 22) along Zerbel Trail.

If you want a good excuse to get outside and do some similar good, and in the spirit of Earth Week, you can join other Mason City residents in taking to city streets to clear roadways, parks, trails and other public areas. Through May 15, City Hall will provide orange bags and hand them out via pick-up appointments, so email mjlitterer@masoncity.net ahead of time. Groups should be less than 5 people and social distancing measures must stay in place. Participants are asked to wear face masks and gloves. 

To claim a clean-up spot for your crew, or to see what areas are being covered, visit the interactive map found on Mason City's official website.

April 17: Manly woman sews masks for Mason City Clinic

For Angel McAllister, of Manly, sewing masks has been a labor of love.

McAllister, a patient coordinator in the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at Mason City Clinic, has sewn 80 masks for her department physicians, nurses, administrative staff members as well as neighbors and colleagues' and friends' children within the past two weeks. 

She even customizes masks to people's interests. For example, she sewed a John Deere mask for Dr. Philip Lee who loves tractors and she made a Corvette mask for Dr. Tim Dettmer who's a car enthusiast. She's also making children-themed masked for little ones.

Mason City Clinic

Some of the Mason City Clinic Ear, Nose and Throat Department show off their handmade masks made by Angel McAllister, of Manly.

Angel McAllister

Angel McAllister, of Manly, sews handmade masks for the Mason City Clinic's Ear, Nose and Throat Department. She has made more than 80 for the department, which she works in.

April 15: ITC Midwest donates to local food banks

ITC Midwest has committed $500,000 in COVID-19 relief aid across its Midwestern service area. The funding will be distributed in two rounds: first, to area food charities, and second, to mental health and substance abuse agencies. Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank and Community Kitchen in Mason City will receive donations in this first round of funding. 

Through its Charitable Giving Program, ITC awards grants to qualified nonprofit organizations that deliver charitable services in the communities it serves. ITC is streamlining the process for its upcoming grant cycles to focus on two areas of giving mentioned above.  For more information, visit https://www.itc-holdings.com/community-approach/philanthropy.

Check out this crew feeding truckers stopping in to this Northwood weigh station:

April 14: Light Up Our Lives

Sprouting from a campaign started by Andersens Market, a Facebook Group called "Light Up Our Lives- Strength for North Iowa" is encouraging area residents to put up their Christmas lights to spread hope and positivity. Sharing photos of your home's lights to the Facebook group by April 18 could score you gift card prizes to area businesses.

Light up our lives

Homes around North Iowa are putting their Christmas lights up to spread hope and positivity.

April 13: Michael Foods to give food to 720 Hancock County families

From noon to 5:30 p.m. on April 13, Michael Foods of Britt will be giving away 720 bags of food to Hancock County residents on a drive-through basis. 

Food bags will contain: 2 2-pound carton whole eggs with citric; 2 1-dozen hardcook eggs; 1 2-pound carton egg whites; 1 10-pound bag of diced potatoes (russet or reds); 1 10-pound bag of shredded potatoes; 1 6-pounds bag of russet based mash potatoes; 1 6-pound bag of red skin based mash potatoes.

If you partake, Michael Foods asks that you don't leave your vehicle and follow drive-through directions. One bag of food per vehicle will be provided on a first come, first served basis. 

April 8: Face mask donations

Lainna Duncan, a sophomore at Mason City high school, donated homemade face masks to staff, Good Shepherd Health Center announced Wednesday afternoon.

Metalcraft donated ten face shields to Hawkeye Harvest Food Bank so they can be used by volunteers.

Homemade face masks

April 2020: Mason City High School sophomore Lainna Duncan donated these homemade face masks to Good Shepherd Health Center.

April 7: Mason City Birthday Train helps kids celebrate despite the times

Does your child have a birthday coming up? Mason City, Clear Lake and Ventura communities have created Facebook groups to organize personal parades to keep birthday celebrations going. To participate in or request a birthday train, find the "Mason City Birthday Train" or "Clear Lake/Ventura Birthday Cheer Train" groups on Facebook and request to join.

April 6: Community bell-ringing in Willowgreen Court neighborhood, McDonald's offers free coffee for healthcare workers

Pat Bergo of Willowgreen Court has started ringing her Norwegian Rhune Love Bell at noon at least through the month of April to encourage or remind others to pray for the end of the coronavirus. Carol Tinkey has joined her by ringing her beautiful sounding wind chimes, given to her by her sisters when her husband passed away on January 27. Other neighbors are encouraged to join them.

Through at least the month of April, McDonald's restaurants will be offering free coffee (hot or iced) to healthcare workers.

April 3: Mason City neighbors called to come out and wave to each other Friday nights

Every Friday night at 6:30 p.m. in April, a KCMR-sponsored event encourages neighbors to come out, turn on their porch lights, and wave to fellow neighbors to send messages of goodwill to one another and maintain a sense of community during an uncertain time.

April 2: River Heights Drive neighbors ring bells in solidarity

Every night at 6 p.m., members of the River Heights Drive neighborhood wander out to their front yards and ring bells to remain in solidarity with one another in a time of social distancing, with or without adult beverages in hand. They've begun calling it the "Six Bells" tradition.

River Heights Drive stays connected in a time of separation

April 1: Osage teacher fills newfound free time with mask-making

On Wednesday night, Osage High School shop teacher and wrestling coach Brent Jennings posted a video on Facebook showing a quick way to make disposable face shields for healthcare workers. All it takes is a piece of clear overhead projector sheet, double-stick tape, a piece of foam, a little bit of Coban wrap (a self-adherent medical wrap), and some scissors.

So far, Jennings said he has made around 75-80 of the face shields, and with the materials he has on hand, he anticipates that he can make around 80 more, which he will donate to Mitchell County Health.

March 26: Lincoln Intermediate staff makes video for students

Lincoln Intermediate staff in Mason City wants its students to know how much they miss them, so they made a video.

Take a look:

Mason City Auto Sales owner gathers supplies for people in need

DaLayne Gurmundson, owner of Mason City Auto Sales, has been spending mornings driving around Mason City, gathering supplies at various stores for those who may be in need of them. More on that here:

Germundson of Mason City Auto Sales gathers supplies for community members in need

Family uses craft project to spread cheer to neighbors

Jill Knowles, of Mason City, and her three daughters, Aliza, Abby and Ava Eilers, have kept themselves busy by decorating their windows with paper hearts, some of which spell out the word "hope."

Hope window

(Left-right) Aliza Eilers, Abby Eilers, Jill Knowles, and Ava Eilers sit in front of a window they decorated to spell the word "hope," using cutouts of paper hearts at their home in Mason City.

March 24: Birthday Cheer Train helps families celebrate, Farmer donates hogs, West Fork CSD caravan waves to students, Harbor Freight to donate supplies to hospitals

A small train of vehicles drove by the twins’ home Tuesday afternoon honking, waving homemade signs and wishing them a happy birthday while they waved with smiles across their face from the driveway.

The Birthday Cheer Train was a surprise to Carver and Elle Schallock, whose parents are Cori and Abram Frein of Mason City and Chad Schallock of Clear Lake.

Read more here: 

Birthday Cheer Train brings joy to North Iowa families unable to celebrate amid COVID-19

Brad Farmer was just sitting with his dad while fixing up a truck when he had an idea for a project that has already helped many families in the Mitchell County area.

According to Brad, he was just talking to his dad about all that is going on in the world currently with the coronavirus going around and businesses and restaurants having to temporarily shut their doors when they came up with the idea to donate one of their hogs.

“We just kind of thought to ourselves, ‘Wow, there’s going to be a lot of people hurting here in a couple weeks that aren’t going to know where their next meal is gonna come from or where their next paycheck is gonna come from,' and we just kind of put this idea together that we were gonna donate one of our hogs to the Locker, pay the processing, and donate it to two families in need,” says Farmer.

What started out as one hog soon turned into eight. Read more on that here:

West Fork Community School District went above and beyond Tuesday afternoon to reconnect with students — from a safe distance, of course. On Tuesday afternoon, a caravan of West Fork teachers paraded through Meservey, Thornton, Swaledale, Rockwell and Sheffield to wave at students.

westfork teacher caravan 2

Students greeted the West Fork teacher caravan Tuesday, March 24.

Tracy Peterson, principal of grades two through eight, said third grade teacher Mary Schulz proposed the idea after seeing a social media post of a similar gesture being done elsewhere.

“It’s just a great way for teachers to let the kids know we’re missing them, and it’s a great way for teachers to wave and speak to each other from a distance,” Peterson said.

Westfork teacher caravan 1

West Fork teachers paraded through area towns Tuesday afternoon, March 24, to reconnect with students from a safe distance.

Additionally, Harbor Freight announced it has decided to donate its entire supply of personal protective equipment to "front line hospitals with 24-hour emergency rooms" in communities that Harbor Freight stores serve. This includes N95 masks, face shields and 5 and 7 mil. nitrile gloves. Hospitals in need of these items can have the office in charge visit https://hf.tools/ppe-request to submit a donation request.

If you're not affiliated with a hospital but would like to nominate one, email hospitalhelp@harborfreight.com, naming the hospital, city and state in the subject line. Harbor Freight requests that you stick to those two options — don't make requests at your local store or their call center, and don't contact hospitals since they're busy helping patients.

March 23: Belmond-Klemme FFA and True Value start garden kits, North Iowans sew face masks for health providers

Belmond-Klemme's FFA chapter is partnering with True Value and nonprofit environmental group Trees Forever to get 40 garden starter kits to students willing to help at a time when they're sitting at home. Read more on that here.

People around North Iowa have been sewing reusable face masks to make up for the current lack:

March 20: Mohawk Market donates food to families 

With the help of community members and businesses, Mohawk Market is donating food boxes to area families in need.

March 19: United Way establishes relief fund

United Way of North Central Iowa established a COVID-19 relief fund.

March 18: Globe Gazette launches Facebook group, family sets out donation bins

On March 18, the Globe Gazette launched a Facebook group to help Iowans to join to get or give help in the midst of this current COVID-19 pandemic. In a matter of days, the group has reached nearly 400 members, and most of those who have joined so far stated their reason was to see if they could help other people who may need it.

elementary students give back during coronavirus

Heartwarming stories of this year so far

Needing some uplifting news? Take a look at some of this year's most heartwarming stories so far:

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It was a wedding the likes of which no one in Mason City has seen before.

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For those looking for comfort and companionship while social distancing during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Humane Society of North Iowa may hav…

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Scott Akers, the owner of Z'Mariks Noodle Cafe in Mason City, is doing his best to make people smile in these uncertain times.

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I've been watching various Facebook groups and there's a common theme here in North Iowa: People need help and others are stepping up.

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Good Shepherd staffers found a creative way for their residents to communicate with their loved ones.

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On a seemingly average weekday, 71-year-old Gary Hanson’s workout at the Mason City Family YMCA began like any other.

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As Julie Baldwin Bublitz turns 13 today, she plans to use the fact that she is a new teenager as an excuse for all potential future misbehavior.

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Laura Baumann and her husband, John, were all smiles Friday morning.

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Christmas spirit at the Nora Springs Care Center is still going strong — thanks to the generosity of a group of donors.

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It took less than 24 hours for the community to lift up a Mason City family.

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Mason City basketball fans will always remember the Meyer sisters.

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In the battle for Mr. and Ms. Wrestler, fans will get to have their say. 

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Last year, sickness kept Gideon Rollene from reaching his goal of competing in the state wrestling championships. 

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The Mohawk Bakery in Mason City High School has seen a few changes this year.

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BRITT | The Britt Area Food Bank has been feeding the hungry since 1986. 

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Though the schools are closed and people are self-quarantining due to the COVID-19 pandemic, West Hancock CSD teachers paraded through the streets of Britt and Kanawha to connect with their students while social distancing.

The Hancock County Board of Supervisors are moving toward looking for a full-time county engineer rather than continue to share an engineer with Wright County, though no decision has been officially made yet.

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