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First Lutheran Church in Papillion donated $7,500 to Tri-City Pantry on Sunday. The church raised the money from proceeds from its Oktoberfest celebration in September. Pictured from left: Mary Zeigler, Pastor Karl Zeigler, Kyle Broderson, Bev Ruff, Bryn Clark, Mellissa Nelson, Chas Ortman and Jim Melcher.

First Lutheran Church has raised enough money to cover the Tri-City Food Pantry’s next three months of giving meat to those in need.

Church members presented the $7,500 check Sunday to pantry officials following the 10:30 a.m. worship service.

This money was raised during the Papillion church’s fourth annual Oktoberfest on Sept. 21.

Each year the church donates the event’s profits to an organization in need. Three of the four years, parishioner Chas Ortman said they’ve chosen the Tri-City Food Pantry, which serves La Vista, Papillion and Ralston.

It’s an easy choice, he said, because that money goes right back into the community.

Ortman said they were able to raise so much thanks to the 580 Oktoberfest attendees. The function continues to grow year after year and is becoming well-known within the community, he said.

“I think it’s quite an accomplishment to have that many people come through,” Ortman said. “They’re happy, the food is hot, they get a nice big plate, they’re full.”

That September day was filled with polka music, a silent auction and home-cooked German cuisine.

The menu included brats, spätzle, sauerkraut, German potato salad and more. German bier and bake sale goods were also available for purchase.

The event also brought the congregation together through volunteering, Ortman said. From cooking, set up and clean up, Ortman said it requires a lot of manpower to make Oktoberfest come to fruition. Volunteers started meeting in April to discuss how to make everything run smoothly.

Melissa Nelson, Tri-City Food Pantry’s executive director, said she knows pulling off an event this size, is a “huge undertaking” for the church, and the pantry greatly appreciates First Lutheran’s support.

“The amount they raise is a huge amount,” Nelson said. “To turn around and give it back to us is an amazing gift.”

Monetary donations allow the pantry to provide consumers with vouchers for perishable staples like meat and dairy.

Ortman said the church knows the pantry is in great need of donations nearing Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Oftentimes, Ortman said, people overlook the need for pantries within suburban communities.

“There’s a lot of middle class people that ... have food on the table, they’re fine,” Ortman said. “They don’t have a clue about how there’s a quite a slug of people that need help.”

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