Jim and Elaine Rider are spending their retirement years joyfully serving others.
One of their endeavors is making fleece neck warmers to donate to veteran's organizations, homeless shelters, and the kids at Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch. It all started when Elaine volunteered at the Marie Sandvik Center in Minneapolis, MN. She was helping give away coats, hats, scarves, and mittens.
"Everyone was asking for a scarf and we ran out of scarves," Elaine said. "I can't knit fast enough to make all the scarves they needed. I came home and was talking to Jim and he said, 'Why don't you make neck warmers, like those fleece Harley Davidson ones we have?' So, I got some material and made a neck warmer. And then I made lots of neck warmers!"
When Jim and Elaine's church family heard what they were doing, volunteers stepped up to help. As Thrivent members, Jim and Elaine formed a Thrivent Action Team, used the funds received from Thrivent to purchase fabric, and brought the volunteers together to make the neck warmers. In the nine years they've been doing it, they've made and distributed thousands to Christian ministries like the Ranch.
"It's more than a neck warmer," Elaine said. "It's the whole package. We want it to be for more than just physical comfort so we provide a Bible verse and an angel to provide spiritual comfort as well."
Jim and Elaine also make thank you cards for men and women in the armed forces. They send about 200 cards and paper clamp angels at a time to The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod ministry to the Armed Forces. And lately, because of COVID, they've started making "thinking of you" cards for people in local nursing homes. Jim and Elaine include an encouraging note, Bible verse, and an angel, to brighten the recipient's day and stave off loneliness.
This amazing duo met on a bus. After both of them changed hours at their jobs, they ended up riding the same bus to and from work. "When you ride the bus every day, you start seeing who is on the bus regularly," Elaine said. "We just started to talk. Our first date was going to a play, 'The Gospel According to Scrooge.' We kept riding the bus together and then he proposed. We've been married 34 years."
The couple started supporting Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch after Elaine saw a bottle of Ranch honey or a Ranch logo somewhere. "I recall having Ranch honey in the cupboard when I was growing up. My parents must have donated to the Ranch to have the honey. I decided to look into it and learn that the Ranch fills in some of the gaps children's parents aren't able to provide."
Jim's heart for the Ranch is very personal. "When I was the age of Ranch kids, I would probably have been one of them. That was my childhood: alcohol and abuse. I had a little brother and sister I pretty much had to care for. One reason I support the Ranch is because no child should have to go through a situation like that."
A well-timed foster family placement pulled Jim out of the situation when he was 15. He and his siblings were placed in different foster homes while his Mom went through treatment. "Pete and Kathy Vanderploeg, who already had four kids of their own, were a very strong Christian family and that was new to me. I heard a lot of the Gospel really quick."
On a road trip last spring, right before COVID hit, Jim and Elaine toured the Fargo and Minot campuses of Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch; as well as the Grand Forks thrift store. The tours made quite the impression.
"It was really eye-opening," Elaine said. "You could just feel the Lord there."
Jim was impressed by the love and dedication of the teachers they visited with at the Ranch in Minot. "Their love and dedication for the children was plainly evident. They had a passion. They wanted to be there. That is the kind of thing I want to support. And we like the honey."
Thanks to gifts from our generous donors, the Ranch helps the most troubled, complicated, and amazing kids by providing best-in-class psychiatric therapy and trauma-informed care. If you would like to provide hope and healing for a child at the Ranch, you can give several different ways.
You can give now to meet the needs of our precious children in one of two ways. Give online at DakotaRanch.org/donate, or mail a check to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch, PO Box 5007, Minot, ND 58702.
Memorials and Honorariums
When you make a donation in memory or in honor of a loved one, they will live on through programs that provide much-needed care for the hurting children who come to the Ranch. You can make your donation in one of the following ways:
Online at DakotaRanch.org
Select Memorial/Honorarium when completing the donation form.
Phone: Call 1-800-344-0957.
Planned and Estate Gifts
Naming Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch as a beneficiary in your will is one way to leave a legacy that serves God's Kingdom. But, it's not the only way. Other legacy giving options include Charitable Gift Annuities, naming the Ranch as a beneficiary of your retirement plan assets or a life insurance policy, leaving real estate to the Ranch, and more. To learn more, contact one of our Development Officers at 1-800-344-0957. Or, visit our legacy giving website at DakotaRanch.org/legacy for tools and information you can use to maximize your philanthropic goals.
Tree of Life
You can honor or remember a loved one by purchasing a leaf, acorn, or rock on one of our Trees of Life. For a Tree order form, to go DakotaRanch.org and choose "Many Ways to Give" from the dropdown menu. Or call 1-800-344-0957—we can send you an order form or take your information over the phone.
Direct Thrivent Choice Dollars® to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch
If you are a Thrivent Financial member, you may have Thrivent Choice Dollars® available to direct to your favorite enrolled charity. Directing Choice Dollars® to Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch helps us teach Christian values to the amazing children at the Ranch—values that aid in their healing, provide a foundation of hope, and help them be successful in their treatment.
If you shop online at Amazon.com, AmazonSmile is a simple and automatic way to support the Ranch every time you shop, at no extra cost to you. Simply go to smile.amazon.com and select "Dakota Boys and Girls Ranch" as your charity.
This article was originally published in Ranch Voice: Winter 2020.
Read more inspiring stories like this and explore other issues of Ranch Voice.