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A love for volunteerism: Caring traits of Mitchell couple show on Valentine’s Day

Kathy and Delbert Northrup have developed a special Valentine's Day tradition. For the past three years, rather than spending the day of love with special reservations at a fancy dinner, the Northrups -- a married couple of 57 years -- assist in ...

Kathy and Delbert Northrup love to volunteer including at Avera Queen of Peace, going from something to help stay busy has turned into a passion for the Northrups. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Kathy and Delbert Northrup love to volunteer including at Avera Queen of Peace, going from something to help stay busy has turned into a passion for the Northrups. (Matt Gade / Republic)

Kathy and Delbert Northrup have developed a special Valentine's Day tradition.

For the past three years, rather than spending the day of love with special reservations at a fancy dinner, the Northrups - a married couple of 57 years - assist in transporting wheelchairs, carrying food trays and delivering flowers to patients, as volunteers at Avera Queen of Peace Hospital in Mitchell.

On a day of romance for most everyone else, the Mitchell couple's habit of caring for others shows through.

"It's really rewarding to see how grateful people are when we're volunteering at the hospital," 81-year-old Delbert said.

Of course, with hearts meant to give, their meaningful work at the hospital doesn't just take place on Valentine's Day. The couple spends almost every day throughout the year helping out wherever they can.

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"We do whatever they need, whether it's taking a wheelchair to someone that needs one after a same-day surgery or delivering food trays to people, we are just proud to help," Kathy said.

Having spent their whole life on their Letcher farm until 2014 when they moved to Mitchell, the couple has found ways to channel that hard-working spirit through volunteerism in various locations, including at the hospital, at the James Valley Community Center and at a local elementary school.

"We also help with the summer lunch program at Longfellow," an energetic 74-year-old Kathy said, who reads bingo at the JVCC.

When she's not volunteering with her husband, Kathy is quilting and exploring new crafts like staining glass, making necklaces and silversmithing.

In the short time Kathy and Delbert have lived in Mitchell, she's created 20 quilts and donated all of them to the Avera Queen of Peace pediatrics unit and cancer center.

"We're used to working hard on the farm, and I've always loved making quilts," Kathy said, who spent about 12 years working at the Pin Cushion. "They're nice and thick quilts, so gifting these to people means a lot, and they will keep you warm."

The Northrups also spend a lot of time at the Holy Family Catholic Church, where they've been members since relocating from Letcher. The two credit their faith for providing the foundation of giving back to their community through volunteer work, which they have used to connect with many local residents in the process.

"It's been a blessing getting to know so many great people through helping out with so many things," Delbert said.

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It's clear the Northrup impact has been felt at the hospital, as Sherri Patzer, a Avera Queen of Peace communications associate, said the two have been a special blessing for the hospital.

"I wish the world had more of them," Patzer said of the Northrups. "It's really special that a couple can have the energy, desire and faithfulness to do the work they provide."

A couple rooted in faith and service, the Northrup's plan to continue impacting the community through their voluntary efforts for as long as time allows.

"We know that we're here to help people, and God wants us to," Kathy said. "Volunteering for anything is just awesome, and it makes your heart feel good."

Kathy Northrup enjoys quilting and has been giving away quilts for the last several years before her and her husband Delbert started volunteering at Avera Queen of Peace and other organizations around Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)
Kathy Northrup enjoys quilting and has been giving away quilts for the last several years before her and her husband Delbert started volunteering at Avera Queen of Peace and other organizations around Mitchell. (Matt Gade / Republic)

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