It’s the ‘little things’ | News, Sports, Jobs

-Photo of the messenger by Chad Thompson

Harper Lovin, then 14, is gone, and Kaylin Willingham, then 14, granddaughters of the late Reverend Al Henderson, together hold a sign urging the community to stop for pumpkins, apple cider and donuts. It was the family’s way of paying forward for the overwhelming support they say they received following Henderson’s death in October 2019.

Two years after the death of Rev. Al Henderson, his legacy of serving the Fort Dodge community will continue with the second annual Pay it Forward on Friday, October 1.

The event was launched last year by Henderson’s community organization Serving our Servants with St. Paul’s Lutheran Church to honor the late pastor on the anniversary of his death tragic.

The mission was simple: spend a day doing little acts of kindness across town. The Fort Dodge Police Association has distributed gift cards to unsuspecting Dunkin customers. The owners of the Dariette bought coffee for the customers of Central Perk and Dessert. Henderson’s family distributed apple cider, donuts and pumpkins. Countless other members of the community have found a myriad of ways to spread kindness in their own way.

This year, Henderson’s family is organizing a fundraiser to sell t-shirts and sweatshirts for Pay it Forward Friday.

The shirt fundraiser will support the Homicide / Other Violent Crimes program at the Domestic / Sexual Assault Outreach Center. The program supports victims and survivors of violent crime with resources after the crime and throughout the trial. Their support often includes the provision of hotel rooms during trials for witnesses who are not family and cannot receive allowances, or food and gas cards to assist witnesses as the compensation does not pay for meals.

-Photo of the messenger by Chad Thompson

The family of the late Reverend Al Henderson gather for a candlelight vigil in honor of the beloved pastor of Fort Dodge in City Square Park. More than 100 people gathered to show their support on the first anniversary of Henderson’s death. The community has spent the day paying forward in various ways to honor the selfless way Henderson has chosen to live his life.

“They were very helpful to us throughout the process”, said Kandi Lovin, Henderson’s eldest daughter. “D / SAOC is an irreplaceable resource that brings empathy and experience to a process that can be long and frustrating. Navigating without them would be terribly difficult.

It’s hard enough after losing a loved one to a violent crime, dealing with grief, but then adding the sometimes complicated court system to that can make things a lot more difficult.

“We think they are a great resource”, Lovin spoke about the Homicide / Other Violent Crimes program. “But they’ve lost funding and we want to be able to make sure they’re a resource for other families who might find themselves in the same circumstances as us. Our family had a lot of support, but we want it for others too. “

Needing the services provided by HOVC is not something that no one hopes for, but Lovin said she and her family were grateful to have had the support of those who understand the impact of violence during the last two years.

The HOVC program serves an area of ​​15 counties in northern Iowa.

-Photo of the messenger by Chad Thompson

Miranda Parrish, then 5, a kindergarten student at St. Paul’s Lutheran School, admires the stem of a pumpkin she picked up from the Hendersons for the Pay It Forward Friday event in 2020. The family Henderson provided free hot apple cider, donuts and pumpkins to the community to donate in honor of Reverend Al Henderson, a beloved pastor of Fort Dodge who was killed on October 2, 2019.

“With budget cuts we have had to cut many areas and all the money we can get and donations will really help us” said Marie Harvey, HOVC program supervisor. “We are very grateful that they chose us as their recipient.

The deadline to pre-order Pay it Forward shirts and sweatshirts is 11:59 p.m. Sunday. Orders can be placed at These shirts will be available in time for Pay it Forward on Friday. Another order for shirts will open later, Harvey said.

Fundraising for the shirts isn’t the only way for community members to get involved with Pay it Forward Friday.

“The beauty of Pay it Forward Friday is that you can do whatever you want” said TJ Pingle, president of Serving Our Servants.

SOS will have Pay it Forward Friday business cards printed with the SOS logo, the phrase “Continue in love and joy” and one of Henderson’s favorite Bible verses printed on them for community members to hand out as they do acts of kindness on October 1. The maps will be available from next week at Shimkat Motor Co.

-Photo of the messenger by Chad Thompson

A pumpkin with the words “Carry on!” Written on it is posted in a carriage at the Hendersons in 2020. “Continue” is a phrase Henderson would often say at the end of a conversation.

“It was a huge success last year when we first did it and I know tons and tons of people have been talking about it, sharing it on social media with the hashtag #PayitForwardFriday.” Pingel said. “It was just a great wellness day to give back and honor Pastor Henderson.”

SOS will have planned certain things to share kindness with local law enforcement and first responders, Pingel said, but the possibilities to pay it forward around town are almost limitless.

“The easiest thing people think of is paying for someone else’s food – it’s a great idea, but it doesn’t even have to be money.” he said. “It could be helping your neighbor with groceries or picking up trash at a local park. These could be simple things like grabbing the door for someone. I think in our time we lose a lot of that personal connection and helping someone with the smallest things can brighten their day.

Lovin said seeing the impact of Pay it Forward on Friday last year meant a lot to the Henderson family.

“Last year it was very useful to us because it was the first anniversary and we were all dreading this day and what it would be like to relive that day again”, she said. “And it was such a positive and rewarding day. For us, that was important because we didn’t want it to be just about daddy’s death, but about how he lived and how amazing the community has been.

The Henderson family will distribute “Kindness kits” in the afternoon on Pay it Forward on Friday, Lovin said. They will also accept donations of cash and gift cards for the HOVC program.

When Henderson was alive, he tried to help everyone he came into contact with, Pingel said.

“That’s kind of the essence of it all – helping someone”, he said. “You never know what someone is going through and what little thing can change their day. He’s changed hundreds and thousands of lives just by doing little things, and it’s something we can all do.

Henderson died after a violent attack outside his church on October 2, 2019. His killer, Josh Pendleton, was convicted of first degree murder and first degree theft and sentenced to life in prison last month .

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