‘If we can help, we try’

Photo by Karin Ernst

Growing up as Lutherans, Karin Ernst’s family is very service-focused, which is the beginning of Ernst’s volunteering chapter. Ernst is now a lifelong member and volunteer at the Clifton Lutheran Church.

“If we can help, we try to help, sometimes it can be overwhelming, but most of the time it’s fantastic,” said Ernst.

Ernst helps out with everything regularly from Sunday school and serving on the church council to setting our coffee hour, according to Pastor James Bixby of the Clifton Lutheran Church.

“I’ve never seen her not have an opinion about something. She has a great sense of humor, incredibly energetic,” said Bixby.

Ernst has volunteered for two extraordinary accomplishments at the church the annual pumpkin sale and the Manna Project of the North Shore, according to Bixby.

She connected with a Navajo Nation reservation in New Mexico where farmers grow pumpkins and convinced the church to sell pumpkins for the farmers. This was totally her brainchild of bringing these pumpkins to the church and sell to the locals.  The church will receive a certain commission rate of proceeds depending on the number of proceeds and donate the money.

“I’m just so incredibly pleased that people now think about Clifton as the pumpkin church. she has not only the insight to do it, but also it was a faithful act,” said Bixby.

The Pumpkin sale led by Ernst involves the community. The members of the church partner with Scout Troop 79, Interact Club of Marblehead, and friends to organize the pumpkins sale. Ernst got two tractor-trailers full of pumpkins onto the lawn at Clifton. It was a win-win situation according to Ernst. It benefits the Navajo by taking their burden of selling pumpkins, and the donation portion of proceeds benefits the community.

“I don’t remember where I saw it or read it from, but I was like, oof, we could do that that would be super cool,” Ernst recalled how she come up with the pumpkin sale idea. 2022 was the seventh year running the sale. The lawn will be decorated with orange and with the sign “We want our lawn back!”

Ernst has also volunteered at the Manna project for five years. God Feeds God’s People was their idea to bring north shore people in need of more food and the goal of the project.

“Rabbi and the pastor got together and said, look I know our religions are different, but there’s one thing that we can all agree on is that everyone should have food,” said Ernst.

She was on the project from the beginning until now to help it run. Raising $8,700 in the first two years, Manna Project of the North Shore was able to purchase, pack and deliver 18,224 healthy, easy-to-prepare meals to supplement the diet of families at risk.