The "holly jolly" is hard to get a grasp on this year.

'Tis the season of gathering with friends and family to celebrate the blessings of love and the magic of Christmas. With mandated social distancing, limitations on guests and fear of getting ill, everyone has been challenged to find the joy in the season.

So many amongst us are jobless or have had their hours cut, leaving their families in need of help with the basic necessities for the first time.

The Pine River Area Food Shelf is here to supplement your food needs. You will be welcomed without judgment and your privacy ensured. There is no income guidelines to meet to be eligible. Questions are asked for our records (never shared) only and to better serve you in the future. The food shelf wants to reduce the pressure on you in one small way.

Reindeer scat happens! Our food shelf is supported by the individuals, groups and service organizations of the community we live in. You get to choose what you want from the shelves and refrigerators. We respect your dignity and pride. We want to reduce the pressure cooker you are under in one small way with nutritious food for your family.

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All COVID-19 restrictions are in place for a safe experience in shopping here. The volunteers and staff under the umbrella of the Pine River-Backus Family Center are instructed in and meet the tough restrictions on serving the public.

All the programs of the Pine River-Backus Family Center are still active, although modified or moderated to meet the strict state guidelines. Food shelf hours are 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays, with the exception of the second Tuesday of the month when hours are 3:30-6 p.m.

If you have questions, call 218-587-4292.

Kathleen Stephan is a volunteer at the Pine River-Backus Family Center.