The B&B Market food train has reached $100,000 in contributions.
It all began in March when Len Conklin thought of his son, Blake, who is recovering from leukemia. When Blake was diagnosed, the Conklins were on the receiving end of a food train. Then Conklin saw a take a penny jar at a local gas station and had the idea to start a community food train.
Blake, 8, recently donated $20 to put the food train over the $100,000 mark. He received the money from the Tooth Fairy when he lost his four front teeth, Conklin said.
John and Kim Lind, owners of B&B Market, said they are amazed by the amount of support the train received from the community and beyond.
“I got a call from a guy in Minneapolis who wanted to donate $1,000,” Lind said.
The food train has helped people from around the area, including Duluth, Moose Lake and Brookston. Food packages have been delivered to senior citizens at Aspen Arms, as well as other senior living areas.
Lind gives a lot of the credit for the food train's success to Kim and their employees who work behind the scenes.
“I’m only as good as the people who back me,” he said.
Conklin said he has been both surprised and pleased with the far reaches of the food train.
“It makes my heart happy,” he said.
Conklin said he wants to be more like Blake and see the world from his perspective. Blake told his dad he wanted to donate his tooth fairy money to the food train because "God wants us to give," Conklin said.
Conklin agreed to let Blake donate the money himself as long as it was done outside of the store and anyone who was going to be near his family answered several questions first. Blake and his twin siblings have not set foot in a public building since schools closed.
Blake's immune system is currently operating at around 20% compared to a healthy person, Conklin said. Blake's blood is tested every month, and he undergoes a spinal tap every 82 days to check for a resurgence of leukemia.
The Conklin family avoids public places as much as possible to help protect Blake. Conklin said the kids spend time outside at their home, and the family enjoys fishing in their boat.
“It’s been a crazy time,” he said of the last few months, but added that he hopes the food train keeps going.
There's no question B&B Market will keep the effort rolling, Lind said.
“As long as people keep donating, the food train will keep going,” he said.
For more information call B&B Market at 218-879-3555 or visit the market at 506 Big Lake Road, Cloquet.