In Minneapolis, a quiet army of generosity gains strength

As the world sees images of soldiers and armored vehicles patrolling Minneapolis streets, an even larger army is quietly gathering strength. Their mission: to put out financial and emotional fires still smoldering after last week’s violent protests.

Lines of vehicles stretched 14 blocks after Sanford Middle School requested 85 bags of food to help families after local stores were looted and burned. They wound up with 20,000 bags of bread, fruit and more.

All My Relations Arts on Franklin Avenue has been transformed from a gallery into a food pantry that the Native American Community Development Institute plans to operate until at least October.

A refrigerated truck carrying 18 tons of fresh produce rolled into a Cub Foods parking lot Tuesday, a gift from the Zakat Foundation, a Muslim charity based in Chicago.

The sheer scope of support, pouring in from Minnesota and the nation, has surprised and relieved exhausted Minneapolis communities.

“These people are coming out of nowhere,” said Mark Graves, director of the Southside Village Boys & Girls Club, watching a group of young men who spontaneously offered to unload groceries from a Richfield food drive Tuesday.

“I haven’t seen anything like this in the 40 years I’ve lived in south Minneapolis,” Graves said. “This is the positive stuff that people around the country need to see. In a time you want to give up hope, this is the stuff that makes you not want to give up hope.”

Hope is coming in ways big and small to Minneapolis neighborhoods, reeling from the torching and looting that erupted after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police on May 25. Individuals show up with brooms. Neighbors form night watch committees. Suburban gyms collect diaper donations. Nonprofits orchestrate volunteers to scrub graffiti.