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The Rev. Carla Johnsen, left, who serves Bethesda Lutheran Church, of Moorhead, Iowa, and St. John Lutheran Church, of Dunlap, Iowa, emerges from a pickup truck with a box containing items to be donated to Lutheran World Relief Headquarters in South St. Paul, Minn. Johnsen in shown on Tuesday at K&B Transportation in South Sioux City, where volunteers from 22 Lutheran churches in Northwest Iowa dropped off quilts, kits and more to be trucked north for distribution to those in need.

SOUTH SIOUX CITY | For two hours on Tuesday afternoon, there seemed to be a revolving door at the end of a semi-trailer parked on the K&B Transportation lot on the southern edge of South Sioux City.

One pickup in, one pickup out. Repeat. Repeat again.

That's the kind of turnstile activity one gets when 22 Lutheran churches from all over Northwest Iowa immerse themselves in their annual giving effort for Lutheran World Relief.

Those pickup trucks, cars and vans brought all kinds of goods that were loaded on the truck and transported free of charge by K&B Transportation to Lutheran World Relief Headquarters in South St. Paul, Minnesota.

According to Linda Clarke, who serves the Martha Cluster locally, here is the breakdown of items placed on the truck and shipped north, items that will be donated throughout the U.S. and the world to those who've been struck by natural disasters or poverty, people who are simply in need.

Givers supplied 1,133 quilts; 353 baby kits; 81 fabric kits; 743 personal-care kits; 1,423 school kits; 97 pounds of soap; 93 blankets; 196 pounds of rolled bandages; and 34 hospice kits.

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Volunteers Bill Peters, left, of Sheldon, Iowa, and Steve Schroeder, of Sergeant Bluff, work to load a truck on Tuesday at K&B Transportation at South Sioux City. Some 22 Lutheran churches in Northwest Iowa worked to fill the truck with donated items that ranged from quilts to medical kits. The items were transported to Lutheran World Services Headquarters in South St. Paul, Minn., part of the annual giving effort in Northwest Iowa.

"For several years, the Lutheran churches in Sioux City and the area have had ladies who've made quilts, put together health kits and school kits, and once per year we load them all to be taken to Lutheran World Relief warehouse," Clarke said.

Additionally, women and men in those churches do good works for local causes. Quilts and health kits, for example, might be donated to the Council on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence, finding the hands of those in need at that agency.

This year's donation drive, for at least two small Northwest Iowa churches, was tied to the observation of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, the Oct. 31, 1517 date when theologian Martin Luther reportedly tacked 95 Theses to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany, signalling the start of the Reformation.

Bethesda Lutheran Church in Moorhead, Iowa, and St. John Lutheran Church in Dunlap, Iowa, spent the past six months preparing for the celebration by collecting school supplies, eventually filling 500 backpacks to be trucked to Lutheran World Relief. Each backpack, the Rev. Carla Johnsen noted, contained four notebooks, one ruler, one pencil sharpener, one pair of scissors, five pencils, five pens, one eraser and one box of Crayons.

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This is one education kit that was packed and shipped to Lutheran World Relief Headquarters in South St. Paul, Minn., on Tuesday. Some 1,423 educational kits like this were shipped in an effort undertaken by women serving 22 Lutheran congregations across Iowa.

Johnsen and her congregations looked at these kits as seeds as much as anything. "Seeds of hope, seeds of love, seeds of perseverance and forgiveness and new beginnings," she noted. "As we celebrate the 500th birthday of the Lutheran Church, maybe these school kits will be seeds that will be part of growing a farmer, a teacher, a rescue worker, an architect, a pastor, a youth director, a health care worker, a veterinarian, a community leader, a beloved child of God who God will put to work doing exactly what God knows the world needs most."

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