Jo Senander: Eleven Who Care Winner
You can always hear Jo Senander coming. She's got a cackling laugh and a jingle in her step.
"I've always loved bells. I don't know why," says Jo as she rings the one dangling from her neck.
You can hear her coming, but it's the impression she leaves behind that you'll remember most.
"It just feels like I can hardly stand it to see people needing stuff," says Jo as she wipes tears from her eyes.
For the last fifteen years Jo has organized the Thanksgiving Day Free Store. A place where people in need can get clean, warm clothes at no cost. Everything is either donated or purchased by her team of super-sale shoppers.
"People kind of watch all year long and we rummage sale and we thrift store shop especially for the jackets because they are expensive," says Jo.
Jo stashes all those goods away just waiting for Thanksgiving. The week before a band of volunteers comes in to Union Congregational United Church of Christ and sorts, stacks and organizes everything. Jo has a way of getting others to give.
"She's the Pied Piper and Mother Theresa. She makes us all want to participate," says Jo Claire Hartsig who nominated Jo.
She's also been described as the glue and the batteries of what happens at Union Church.
"I think it's her passion and her energy. It's just contagious. She's just so into it herself but she makes it accessible for each and every one of us to do our little part," says Brenda Clarno, director of volunteer ministries at the church.
Talk about energy, Jo's volunteer work goes beyond the church walls. Twice a week you can find her at the St. Louis Park Emergency Program or STEP. Mostly because it breaks Jo's heart to see people, especially families, go without.
This year the need at the Thanksgiving Day Store will be greater than ever. It will drive Jo to give even more, to ask more of others around her. Her dedication is unmatched, her generosity is boundless.
"She brings our what's best in all of us to address what's best in the world. It's very exciting," says Jo Claire Hartsig.
"I love what I do," says Jo Senander.
Learn more about Union Congregational United Church of Christ.
Donations to the Thanksgiving Day Free Store can be sent to:
Thanksgiving Day Free Store
c/o Jo Senander
1300 Melody Lane
Minnetonka, MN 55305
(Copyright 2009 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)