Chance meeting between pastor, deputy leads to blankets of kindness for people in need

Lindsey Nettestad, left, and Jason Mehring, far right, met by chance in December and formed a partnership that brought together a group of volunteers to make fleece blankets. The Cass County Sheriff's Office will carry the blankets in squad cars and dispense them at fire scenes and other times when people need comforting. Also pictured is volunteer Molly Martel, who is holding her daughter, Mariella; Mehring's infant daughter, Aspen; Mehring's twin sons, Peter and Matthias, and Martel's daughter, Ellianna. Special to The Forum
Lindsey Nettestad, left, and Jason Mehring, far right, met by chance in December and formed a partnership that brought together a group of volunteers to make fleece blankets. The Cass County Sheriff's Office will carry the blankets in squad cars and dispense them at fire scenes and other times when people need comforting. Also pictured is volunteer Molly Martel, who is holding her daughter, Mariella; Mehring's infant daughter, Aspen; Mehring's twin sons, Peter and Matthias, and Martel's daughter, Ellianna. Special to The ForumSpecial to The Forum

FARGO — The heavy blanket of snow that covers the Fargo-Moorhead metro area is a cold reminder of how tough winters here can be.

But in the middle of all the cold and snow a little story unfolded this winter that may ultimately bring a touch of warmth to many lives when a bit of comfort is most needed.

It began with a chance meeting in January, when Jason Mehring and his wife, Kiana, bought a couch at Costco and were trying to fit it into their SUV.

As it became clear the pieces of the sectional were not going to fit, strangers offered to help.

One was Lindsey Nettestad, whose truck was big enough to accommodate the couch.

With her truck loaded with couch sections, Nettestad followed the Mehrings home and once they got there, they got to talking.

The Mehrings learned that Nettestad was a deputy with the Cass County Sheriff's Office.

Wanting to pay her back for her kind assistance, they asked what needs the county had that they might help with.

Nettestad mentioned they were always looking for donations of blankets, as there was no shortage of fire scenes and other situations where someone could use a comforting coverlet to help get them through a difficult time.

Although the Mehrings are brand new to the area, having come from New Ulm, Minn., to establish a church that for now they are simply calling "Mission Fargo," the Mehrings put out the word about the need for blankets.

Soon, they were receiving donations of fabric as well as money for buying materials.

Also, about a dozen moms and a collection of young people volunteered to help.

The group spent part of two days making fleece tie blankets and when they were done, they had 30 blankets to give to Nettestad.

Nettestad took the blankets and divided them out to fellow deputies, who put the blankets in their squad cars for times when they will be needed.

"Seems like we're always short on blankets," Nettestad said.

"Accidents. Fires. Even domestics," she said, adding that when a child is involved, even a small thing can help put them at ease and make things not so bad.

Nettestad said given the success of her partnership with the Mehrings in operation blanket, "I think we'll work together in the future as well."

Jason Mehring, a United Methodist pastor, said the project fit perfectly with his hopes for the community church he plans to establish.

"We want to build a church where we are actually engaged in the community," he said.

Beyond a place where people come to worship, "I think people would much rather have a place where they could come and help make a difference," he added.