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Charly Haley, Published October 26 2012

Couple retiring from bread delivery

FARGO - Every other week, Leonard Thompson and his wife leave the 25th Street South Sunmart with two and a half shopping carts of bread.

“Sometimes more, sometimes less,” 87-year-old Leonard said.

For more than 30 years, he has volunteered to pick up day-old bread and cookies from Sunmarts in the area and deliver them to homeless shelters or food pantries. In the past few years his wife, 81-year-old Barbara Thompson, has also helped.

But the Thompsons are reaching the end of their bread-delivering days. They’ve decided to “retire” on Thursday.

“It’s kind of sad, but we’re both sore,” Barbara said. “I have emphysema, and he has back problems.”

Leonard said the job is easier in the summer because he can push the cart straight out to his car. In the winter, though, he needs to carry the bread in boxes and it’s hard on his back.

“It’s time to let someone else do it now,” he said.

For the past 10 years, Leonard has delivered the bread he picks up to the Emergency Food Pantry on Fourth Avenue North in Fargo.

“We enjoy picking it up and taking it to the food pantry for people in need,” Barbara said.

She and Leonard load the bread into their car from Sunmart, and then Leonard drops Barbara off at their home in south Fargo before bringing the baked goods to the food pantry, where the staff helps him unload.

With the Thompsons retiring, Emergency Food Pantry staff will take over the job of bread delivery.

Linda Clark, coordinator of the Emergency Food Pantry, said she’s going with the Thompsons on Thursday during their last pick-up so she can be introduced to the Sunmart employees.

“The people at the bakery we get it from are so nice,” Barbara said. “They’re very nice, friendly people.”

Clark said the Thompsons’ work is appreciated.

“This is a big job for them to do because they’re older,” she said. “They need to take care of themselves now.”

Clark hasn’t met Barbara yet but said Leonard will be missed by the Emergency Food Pantry staff.

“He’s the nicest man. He’s wonderful. You just want to give him a hug,” Clark said. “He’s so giving, and it isn’t easy for him to do all this work that he’s doing.”

Before working with the Emergency Food Shelter, Leonard delivered bread to the Dorothy Day and Churches United homeless shelters in Moorhead, and to the Salvation Army in Fargo. The Sunmart location he originally worked from, which has since closed, was in north Moorhead.

“Some friends of mine got this started years ago, and I’ve kept up with it,” Leonard said.

Leonard didn’t say much on why he’s continued the volunteering for more than 30 years.

“I just liked it,” he said. “I like it if I can help someone out.”

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