Published March 9, 2022

Having Fun While Doing Good

Written by
Lydia Hoverson
| The Dakotan
Eric Locken and his girlfriend, Jessica, pose for a selfie [Photo: submitted by Eric Locken]
Eric Locken and his girlfriend, Jessica, pose for a selfie [Photo: submitted by Eric Locken]

Citizen of the Year: Eric Locken

MINOT — On Friday, February 18, the Minot Citizen of the Year Award went to Eric Locken, a now full-time employee at Project BEE. Although, Locken says he has always been eager to help those in his community, even since high school.

“I was working on some Habitat for Humanity projects throughout high school and college, and I used to volunteer at a local music venue. Three days a week serving coffee and sodas and stuff.”

Locken says one thing just led to another. “When Minot flooded my family lost six houses. When that happened, it kind of got me helping out other people when I could.”

Hurricane Harvey was also a huge motivator to Locken. “People weren’t doing anything, so I decided to kind of do it myself.”

Using Facebook and local media, in 48 hours Locken says he and some others were able to gather 11,120 pounds worth of donated goods that they drove down to Texas on a truck and trailer, giving it to a charity in Austin, Texas to give to the hurricane victims.

Locken, his girlfriend, and his daughter, also put on a cupcake sale, in which his daughter and girlfriend did all the decorating. “We would just walk into random bars, and people on Facebook, and Snapchat, and tell them that it was just donations, or whatever you feel like giving for cupcakes, and we ended up raising $1,150. We decided to give it to the Minot Public Schools Foundation to give to Washington School. They bought 513 books with it,” said Locken. He also explained how that was enough books to provide four books to each teacher for their classroom library, and one book for each student, with extra for birthdays and giveaways.

Locken also says he put on a silent auction and chili cookoff at Nola’s Lounge to raise money for Thanksgiving food baskets. “We made 32 baskets, which on average should feed 6-8 people,” said Locken. He said he also cooked enough food in his own kitchen for around 30 people that he donated to the Minot Domestic Violence Crisis Center.

He says he has another fundraiser in mind for Easter. “Berries for Bunnies is what my daughter decided to call it. We’re going to have a kids Easter egg hunt.”

Earlier this month, Locken also started a book drive “just for fun,” he says. “I collected 350 children’s books and gave them all to Sunnyside Elementary.”

Locken says all these ideas are not completely his, as his girlfriend and daughter both come up with some as well.

In response to what inspires him, Locken replied, “My community. My family’s been here for 140 years - it’s important to me. There’s so many people today that all they see is negativity in the news, and they hear about bad things before they hear about good things, because you have to eat trauma for breakfast, it seems. On your phone, everything’s bad, and it’s not like that when you look at your community, there’s people out there doing great things everyday.”

Locken says in high school it was a hobby for him, it was fun, and felt good to see people’s faces when he did something good for them. “My grandparents were big into church, and they donated a lot of their time. My mother did a lot of work like that, helped out whoever she could. My dad always said ‘money isn’t real, it’s what you do with your time that makes a difference.’ I figured the best way to do that was to invest in the people that are around me.”

“Getting a nomination [for the Citizen of the Year Award] was surprising. Winning was something I never expected. If you would’ve told me that I would even be on the same page as the people that, you know, really deserved it, three years ago? I wouldn’t have believed it. None of it’s ever been done for recognition. I just wanted to make people smile. I was a clown in high school, and I still am today. If it’s fun and stupid and funny, I’m probably gonna do it.”

Applications for the Citizen of the Year Award can be found on the City of Minot website.

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