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Tree of life feeds body and soul

By: Doreen Gosmire, director of communication, Dakotas UMC

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Linda Garriott, executive director at Tree of Life talks with KELO news. Photo from KELO news story.

Tree of Life Ministry continues to feed the bodies and the souls of the Rosebud Nation. Last week, the ministry continued its feeding ministry in new facilities and received a South Dakota Penitentiary gift.

“Our main mission is feeding, feeding the hungry in body and spirit,” says Linda Garriott, who serves as the executive director  forTree of Life Ministry. 

Tree of Life, located in Mission, South Dakota, is a Dakotas Conference mission serving several of the United States’ most impoverished counties. Although the pandemic has caused them to halt some of their essential services, it has given many folks the invitation to share the love of Jesus with their neighbors.

Each day Tree of Life has been feeding about 150 people. The daily meals are packaged in a to-go container, personal items placed in bags, all distributed outdoors. 

“We continue to serve people, no matter what the weather,” says Garriott.

The daily meals and personal items, known as The Warm Welcome, are being prepared in a new 40 X 60-foot building. The building has been under construction since last spring after a fire destroyed the previous kitchen. The new facility will be fully operational soon after the commercial grade kitchen appliances are in place and connected.

“We are almost doubling the space for The Warm Welcome. We have operated in a 20 X 20 space, and we are looking at a new space of 40 x 60 square feet. The kitchen will be commercial grade. We will be able to serve more people,” says Garriott.

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Cars are loaded at a Tree of Life food give away. Photo by Pastor Jason Christensen.

Twice a week, food is given away. Boxes are packed with food items, people drive up, and the food is placed in the trunk or back of vehicles. Clothing and small household items are distributed on a request basis. Read more about the new building and ministry.

Tree of Life depends upon volunteers and donations to make the ministry happen. Recently, the ministry was the recipient of a $4,000 gift from the South Dakota State Penitentiary. Inmates raise the money through pizza parties. They also made and donated wooden toys and hats. View a KELO TV news story.  

“Donations have been up,” Garriott says. “People have been faithful and encouraging.” 

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Wooden toys made by prison inmates. Photo by Pastor Linda Baldock.

One of the primary sources of volunteers, donations, and revenue is Volunteer in Mission Teams (VIM). VIM teams come to Tree of Life, bring gifts, work as volunteers in one of the ministries—food, thrift store, or construction, learn about the culture, and build relationships. For the past year, there have been no VIM teams. 

Tree of Life staff, board members, and Garriott have developed protocols and procedures so that VIM teams can return this year. 

“We are looking forward to teams coming. We are asking for groups that are smaller in size and less in numbers,” Garriott says. “We plan to host one group a week, with no more than 12 persons per group. This will create a safe space for everyone concerned.”

Donations are always needed to make the ministry happen. Tree of Life is always looking for diapers, gift cards to purchase diapers and other items, and volunteers. Contact Tree of Life Ministry at: PO Box 149, 140 S. Roosevelt Road, Mission, SD 57555-0149, e-mail, phone 605-856-4266websiteFacebook page.


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