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From Villa Care to Lotus, with love

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen Ashley Vaala, director for Project Lotus, loads some of the items collected for them by the staff of the Fort Dodge Villa Care Center. Jessica Bellinger, social services designee. right, and Breann Moore, nursing manager, center, help out with the tubs full of items.

The staff at the Fort Dodge Villa Care Center found the perfect place to store all the items they collected for the Lotus Community Project women’s shelter.

They placed them in large plastic tubs, each filled to overflowing, around a decorated Christmas tree.

The month-long effort collected some of the many things needed to open a shelter. Clothes, coats, blankets, knitting yarn and needles, crock pots, games, coloring books, socks and basic hygiene items.

Jessica Bellinger, social services designee at Villa Care, said the Lotus Project was a perfect fit.

“We knew they were up and going,” she said. “We knew they could use things. We reached out and they gave us a list of things they were in need of.”

The project was announced in the employee newsletter and posters were put up. The results of the effort filled about 10 tubs.

“We are very proud of our team,” Bellinger said. “They do so much here. They also do a Secret Santa for the residents. They did an amazing job.”

Ashley Vaala, director of the Lotus Community Project, visited Villa Care Wednesday to pick up the donations. She was driving a van donated by Colleen Dencklau, of Fort Dodge.

The first thing she saw were four large cardboard boxes of bright colorful yarn.

“Ooooh. Yarn,” she said. “Yes!”

She also greatly appreciated the crock pots. Lotus is currently unable to use the onsite stove.

“We need a fire hood for the stove,” Vaala said.

While the large donation from the Villa Care staff fills a lot of Lotus’ needs, there are still many things needed, Vaala said.

Some of those include twin-size mattress covers, pillow cases and padlocks with combinations for the residents’ lockers, in addition to the fire hood for the stove.

Vaala said the public can visit during an open house scheduled for Jan. 20 from 1 to 4 p.m. at 2980 170th St., Vincent.

The next day, Jan. 21, Lotus will open for clients.

She’s already started the process of seeking employees.

Vaala said Villa Care employees working together is exactly how Lotus was accomplished.

“It’s the community coming together as a group and working to make a difference.”

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