The annual Angels in the Outfield softball tournament hosted by Osceola County’s Young Farmers this year more than tripled its donation to the regional charity it namechecks.
A representative of Angels of Action was on hand at Osceola County Farm Bureau’s recent annual meeting to accept a check for $6,387.
This year’s tournament saw an even 10 teams competing, beamed lead organizer and Osceola Young Farmer Chair Taylor Martin at the meeting. That alone made for a much richer tally than year one’s four-squad event.
Another boost this time around came from a $2,500 contribution from the Agent Charitable Fund via its local representative, Reed City-based Farm Bureau Insurance man Dan Lee.
The combined donation goes toward the Angels of Action food program, the foundation of the 12-year-old charity’s increasingly diverse offerings.
“We started as a simple backpack food program,” explained Kim Easler, director of community outreach for the Big Rapids-based charity.
Feeding local schoolchildren through their schools served the outfit well for years, until two key developments made things markedly less simple: Moving into a new home base, and a teensy-weensy bug named Covid.
“Sounds strange now but Covid was a blessing for us,” Easler explained, largely because their new facility provided clients with a visible, accessible focal point. “When the schools shut down we lost our connection to the kids and had to reinvent how we did things.
“We actually prospered.”
Shuttered schools meant Angels of Action saw its usual model flipped on its head: Instead of taking food packs to schools, those children’s families now came to the Angels’ own haven, a donated church in the center of town.
“Our new building allowed us to get in better touch with the families we were helping — it really opened our doors,” Easler said. “Families came to us directly and we got to know their needs better.”
That soon broadened the organization’s entire focus.
They also started forging relationships with other local service providers who, independently, were connecting needy families with clothing, employment opportunities, financial education and even shelter.
The Angels’ wingspan is also spreading north into Osceola County, where their blessings have grown in recent years — to the extent they hope to soon open a satellite roost in Evart.