ST. PAUL — Can anybody find me somebody to love?
Somebody (somebody), somebody (somebody)…
Delinia Parris passionately sang karaoke of Queen’s Somebody to Love.
Her stage was a stair landing in a lobby that adjoins the gymnasium of St. Paul City Middle School on Virginia Avenue. The audience members were Parris’ neighbors and people she has met while working with Second Harvest Heartland on weekly food distributions for 250 people in the Frogtown neighborhood.
The Frogtown Neighborhood Association has been using the school as its location since a food shelf in the area lost funding and closed.
“We do it like a party every week; we have music,” Parris said. “I love my community. These are my friends, my neighbors, and I have to be here for them because this is the type of thing I would have needed when I was in dire circumstances.”
Having benefited from previous help, Parris knows the importance of keeping spirits high.
“It stays with me because I’m a mother of three, and I just adopted three grandchildren,” she said. “[It’s important that] people can have fun and it not be a pity party. You’ve got to have a dance party and have fun and let people know that their traumas are being addressed through being helpful to our neighbors.”
On Tuesday, Vikings receiver Stefon Diggs and Land O’Lakes, Inc. provided their helping hands for a donation of a thousand turkeys, macaroni and cheese and butter in insulated grocery bags for Thanksgiving.
It marked the second year in a row that Diggs has helped Twin Cities residents through donations of turkeys and the first time to do so in collaboration with Land O’Lakes.
“The Twin Cities and Minnesota Vikings have shown me a whole lot of love. I’m going to be here for a while, so I want to make my impact as big as I can,” Diggs said. “Land O’Lakes played a large part in this whole process. I’m always appreciative of them. Hopefully we can do this for a very long time. Making a difference is huge.”
Diggs will turn 25 next Thursday. With a birthday in such close proximity to Thanksgiving, Diggs explained he “picked that as one of the holidays where I always want to pay it forward and share a lot of love around that time.”
Neighbors flowed through a receiving line, chatting with the personable receiver and posing for selfies.
He was impressed by their spirits and authentically connected, particularly when young people walked through with their families. It reminded him of meals that included mac and cheese at his grandmother’s house.
“The holidays can be a good time and a bad time, but being close to people and spreading a lot of love and gratitude, I just try to pay it forward,” Diggs said.
Land O’Lakes Community Relations Manager A.J. Graves said the company saw Diggs’ effort last year and reached out to see if they could help going forward.
Graves has worked with Land O’Lakes’ community relations and charitable efforts for seven years. Originally from Long Prairie, a town of about 3,000, Graves said it was amazing to see a distribution of that size.
“Sometimes with events, planning can be a lot, but your end goal is to have a thousand families having a great Thanksgiving,” Graves said. “It melts your heart, seeing everyone come in with smiles on their faces and telling them, ‘Happy Thanksgiving.’ ”
Ramsey County Commissioner Trista MatasCastillo said Parris has “done great work for years” and treats people with “dignity and respect.”
“Our community is in a food desert. We don’t have grocery stores in our district,” MatasCastillo said. “We don’t have access to food, and we have a lot of people that are living below the poverty line, so it really is visionaries like Delinia that are making sure people are fed.”
Asked what she loves most about the Frogtown neighborhood, Parris immediately said the diversity.
“Everybody lives in Frogtown, and they are the nicest people that you’d ever want to meet,” Parris said. “My neighbors are amazing, from helping to shovel snow for seniors to make sure kids are not running in the streets. It’s a family place.”
Somebody to love?
In Parris’ mind, it’s everybody.
WR Stefon Diggs partnered with Land O’ Lakes to host his Second Annual Turkey Giveaway at St. Paul City Middle School. In preparation for the Thanksgiving holiday, Diggs and Land O’ Lakes provided turkeys and sides to 1,000 families in need connected through Second Harvest Heartland and Feeding Frogtown.