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With the sun still 45 minutes from rising, the six volunteers with the Charity Lutheran Church missionary outreach program board the church bus en route from Bismarck to McLaughlin, S.D., to serve a post-Thanksgiving Day meal for the parishioners of the Freedom Fellowship Church. 

On Page A1 today there’s a tale of three churches working together to make life easier for people who often have to do without the essentials in life. It may sound like a bleak story, but it’s not.

Mike McCleary of the Tribune, a photojournalist by trade, likes to tell his stories with photos and words. He does so when he recounts his trip McLaughlin, S.D., on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation, on Nov. 25. He traveled with volunteers from Charity Lutheran Church in Bismarck as they took a large meal to the nondenominational Freedom Fellowship Church in downtown McLaughlin.

Charity Lutheran has been providing a meal once a month in McLaughlin for 15 years. Bismarck Community Church also takes a meal to the community once month. Without the churches and the Rev. Harvey Schmeichel and his wife, Patti, at the Freedom Fellowship Church, many would go without. Even the leftovers are packaged for members of the community.

It’s easy for us to forget there are many who live in poverty in North Dakota and South Dakota. Many live in rural areas where they aren’t as visible. Despite programs across the state to help the needy many still lack the basics. That’s what makes McCleary’s story and photos so valuable. He puts faces on the people involved and he gives them a voice.

McCleary likes to be a storyteller, which is what all journalists strive to be. He’s done a periodic feature page called Neighbors over the years with black-and-white photos and an extensive story, often a profile of someone. He delves into their lives, often taking time out of his schedule over a period of weeks to follow them.

The trip to McLaughlin was one day, yet he still managed to give us a brief history of the Schmeichels and provide us a feel of what it was like to attend the dinner.

There’s probably not too many people aware of the two churches taking meals to the town. It’s done not to garner attention, but to help others. They are living their faith.

The Tribune tries to balance the daily demands of covering the police beat, checking on city, county and state government. We strive to be current on health, business and energy issues. All our reporters strive to carve out time to do storytelling. Sometimes we can do it when covering government or reporting on a health development.

Our goal is to share as many of the rich stories in our readership area as possible. We don’t always succeed, but we don’t intend to quit trying. When we succeed we like to believe we’ve helped readers better understand their community and state. That we have helped them connect with others.

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