When a camp serving military combat veterans and their families needed children's toys, the Nisswa Lions club stepped up.
The Nisswa Lions, with the help of an area retailer that wishes to remain nameless, donated a variety of toys to Project New Hope.
Project New Hope is devoted to helping combat veterans of any war and provides military family retreats. The retreats are free of charge and include meals. Veterans may simply enjoy the time away with their families or take part in break-out sessions, which cover topics such as stress reduction, sleep solutions, money management and communication. Counselors are available throughout the stay.
Project New Hope has several retreat sites including, Camp New Hope near McGregor.
Dick Haynes, Camp New Hope coordinator, said the camp still has a laundry list of needs to help make stays comfortable for veterans and their families. On the list - recreational, lakeside and campground equipment and tools.
Ted Schaefer (left), Nisswa Lions president, and Lions member Jim Dullum, Jen Billington of Project New Hope and Lions member Jim Weitgenant looked through the display of donated toys at the Lions Club meeting Monday in the Nisswa Community Center. The Lions donated the toys to Project New Hope's camp, which offers retreats for military combat veterans and their families. Brainerd Dispatch/Steve Kohls» Purchase reprints of this photo.
Haynes said volunteers have offered time and labor for the camp's maintenance. Handyman and carpenter skills are needed to make repairs and structural enhancements on some of the housing units.
Jen Billington, who volunteers with her husband, Bruce, who founded Project New Hope, took the toys she purchased with donated funds to the Nisswa Community Center Monday so Lions club members could see what their donations were providing to the camp.
Billington said the Lions have been supporters of the camp retreats in general. Additional items on Project New Hope's wish list include highchairs, booster chairs and playpens.
Camp New Hope, by the nonprofit Friendship Ventures, has projects for volunteers looking to help from splitting fire wood to picking up the grounds and pathways, painting and shingling.
Camp needs include: a light for the flag pole, a new lake front retaining wall and a new dock, enclosed large trailer, Bobcat, trailer to haul pontoons/boats/fish houses, newer furniture, area rugs, twin sheet sets, all-terrain vehicle with a blade, cross-country skis or snowshoes, a large portable tent, archery equipment, fishing poles and tackle, CB base radio and walkie-talkies, lawn furniture, gas grills, four- to six-person tents, on-demand water heater for the cabins.
Families with children ranging from infants to teenagers have come to the Project New Hope retreats. More information is available at www.projectnewhope.net. The time with family in the camp setting was designed to assist veterans who are returning after wartime service.
"It's just a nice time to get back together and remember how they used to be and how they want to be in the future," Billington said.
Now she said some veterans have used time at the camp to be with their families before departing for another tour of duty.
Retreats for vets
Camp New Hope is on the edge of the Savannah State Forest on Glacier Lake in McGregor.
It provides education and services to families in a camp setting with a quarter mile of lakeshore, private walking trails, cabins and dining.
Retreat dates are March 20-22, May 22-24, July 3-5, Aug. 21-23, Oct. 16-18, Dec. 18-20.
RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at email@example.com or 855-5852.
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