Bridges of Hope works to meet community needs

Bernadette Foh, executive director of Bridges of Hope, wants to make sure community members know her organization is ready to help with food, hygiene and even financial assistance amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Food, hygiene products and financial support are among the needs Bridges of Hope is working to provide for lakes area residents experiencing hard times from the effects of the coronavirus.

After recently taking over leadership of Operation Sandwich — previously run by United Way — Bridges of Hope Executive Director Bernadette Foh wants the public to know her organization is here to help.

“We are open, and we’re here to serve you in this time of need,” Foh said.

Care packages with food and hygiene supplies are available from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday at Bridges of Hope, 2011 S Sixth St., and Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 418 Eighth Ave. NE, both in Brainerd.

Foh said people should call ahead so staff can do their best to cater to individual needs.


She also said Tuesday she hoped to partner with Brainerd Public Schools to make sure meals are available for students who need it.

The school district announced Tuesday afternoon free bagged breakfasts and lunches will be available March 18-27 at various school buildings for students and families to pick up.

Ideally, Foh said Bridges of Hope will then be able to fill in the gap with dinner.

“Just things to make sure that we’re supplementing and working collaboratively as a community organization,” Foh said.

Anyone interested in helping out Bridges of Hope’s efforts can donate non-perishable foods, produce items and hygiene products at Bridges of Hope, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Lutheran Church of the Cross in Nisswa or either Common Goods locations in Crosslake and Baxter.

Items Foh said she is especially looking for right now include: canned vegetables, mac and cheese, canned soup, boxed dinners, cereal, granola bars, apples, oranges, clementines, bottled water, juice, antibacterial soap, hand sanitizer, ibuprofen, Tylenol and cold and cough medicines. Foh said they will also take donations of rubbing alcohol and aloe vera, which can be used to make hand sanitizer if it isn’t available in stores.


Monetary donations will also be accepted via check or remotely by PayPal. Details are available at . Donations are tax deductible.

Bridges of Hope also works to provide financial assistance to those who are having a hard time paying rent, and Foh said she is talking with utility companies to make sure services can continue even if customers are not able to pay.

Those who are in crisis and need assistance can call 218-825-7682.

“We just ask that people be patient with us because we have exceeded more than 60% of normal call volume because people have a lot of needs,” Foh said. “And we want to be able to make sure that we are catering to all those needs in a more intentional and strategic way based on what the needs are.”

As a public service, we’ve opened this article to everyone regardless of subscription status.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at .
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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