Renville County Food Shelf destroyed by arson

11:20 PM, Sep 10, 2012   |    comments
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OLIVIA, Minn. -- The building that houses the Renville County Food Shelf went up in flames Sunday night. A huge loss for the community, but even harder to accept, is the fact that someone set the fire intentionally.

"I feel sorry for the people that need to use us and to think that somebody could do that to these people," said Ardis Wertish, Director of the Food Shelf.

Wertish says just last month the food shelf helped 287 families. They do hope to be up and running in a temporary location in a week or two. They've been offered a vacant space in the city's downtown.

"It's times like this that a community comes together and Olivia always comes together and we will come together," said Mayor Sue Hilgert.

Second Harvest has told the food shelf they will replace the food, but the organization does have to replace all their equipment like freezers and refrigerators. Though they are called the Renville County Food Shelf, they are not attached to the county as far as funding. They are supported strictly through donations and volunteers. They have set it up so people can donate to any bank in Renville County.

As for the fire, no one knows why someone would do this to an organization that helps so many. The Olivia Fire Chief says he can't recall any other case of arson in the city.

"It's sad to know someone would do something like this to someone who's out here to help so many other people. Same with the Red Cross at the other end of the building. Their job is to help other people and to have something like this happen is just tragic," said Chief Tim Seehusen.

The food shelf in Willmar will help out any families that would normally get food from the Renville location until they can back up and running again.

There was also a hair salon and an apartment in the building. No one was hurt.


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