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home : news : area June 24, 2016

7/9/2013 2:53:00 PM
Local residents win free fuel from Cenex Tanks of Thanks program rewards Hayfield residents for making a difference in the community
Len and Deb Oelkers are rewarded for their kindness.  “Do you really need to take our picture?
+ click to enlarge
Len and Deb Oelkers are rewarded for their kindness.

“Do you really need to take our picture?" Deb Oelkers asked. “It wasn’t just us, the whole community helped.” The couple explained that they were neighbors and their son was a classmate and friend with one of the Nelson boys. To them it just made sense to fill the void and do what needed to be done. “We miss Jon,” Deb said.

“The Oelkers were so amazing during Jon’s illness, they did anything they possibly could to help us anytime we needed it,” Holli Nelson said in an email. “I’m sure getting through last summer would have been much more difficult without their help. They are awesome!” Photo by Melanie Dobson
Ruth Eickhoff’s nomination of the Oelkers

"My thirty-six- year-old son-in-law, Jon, recently passed away from a rare form of cancer. From the time he was diagnosed until his passing it was only 4 months. He left behind 4 boys who through their dad learned to love sports. During his treatments, my daughter tried to keep the house and the boys schedules as close to normal as possible.

Having to take Jon in for treatments on a daily basis, Len and Deb Oelkers took it upon themselves to make sure that the boys were able to continue participating in the sports they loved, go to the church group where they had made friends and even seeing that they never had to go home to an empty house. When Jon ended up in the hospital they drove the boys to visit so they were able to spend as much time as possible with him. Jon's cancer was not to be cured.

He made the decision to go out to Boston for a clinical study on a new drug that he knew would not help him but possibly another father so he wouldn't have to go through what he was. Len and Deb made sure that Holli and Jon's house was looked after while they were gone. When Deb learned of Jon's passing in Boston, she immediately went to their house and made sure all of the laundry was put away, beds had clean sheets, the entire house was spotless and the refrigerator was well stocked. One week after Holli, the boys and the rest of the family returned from Boston, Oscar, Jon's dog had to be put down. Len was there for them.

The boys wanted Oscar buried with their dad. In order to make this happen the dog had to be cremated so Len saw to it that he was. Being on the cemetery board, Len picked up the ashes, buried them in the corner of Jon's plot and quietly left to allow the boys time with their dad and Oscar. My grandsons know that Len and Deb are there for them no matter what.

They are the type of people who help where and when needed. Len and Deb Oelkers are truly a couple who not only help my daughter and anyone else who needs it, but are also very active in their church. I truly hope they receive a "Tanks of Thanks" as they truly deserve it."

One local couple has received a special thank you for their contributions to the community. Len and Deb Oelkers of Hayfield, Minn., were selected to receive free fuel from Tanks of Thanks, a program that rewards people who do good deeds to help make their community just a little bit better.

The Tanks of Thanks program from Cenex, the CHS energy brand, encourages people to nominate friends, family and neighbors for free fuel as a way to say thank you for doing good in the community. Each month, 100 nominees are randomly selected to receive free fuel from the Tanks of Thanks program.

The Oelkers were nominated for caring for the children and wife of a man who passed away from cancer. When the children's father was undergoing cancer treatment and unable to bring his kids to sports practices, the Oelkers gladly chauffeured them and even drove them to the hospital to visit their father. Upon his passing, the Oelkers went into the family's house, cleaned it, washed all of the sheets and made their beds, filled the refrigerator with food and put away all of the laundry. Earlier this month, the Oelkers were selected to receive a $50 Tanks of Thanks gift card redeemable at any Cenex location.

"There are people doing good things in every local community, and these acts of kindness do not go unnoticed or unappreciated," explains Akhtar Hussain, CHS refined fuels brand marketing manager. "Congratulations to Len and Deb Oelkers, and thank you for your contribution to the community."

According to Hussain, Tanks of Thanks is a multiyear program, so there is still plenty of time for others to nominate someone they know for free fuel. "Nominating someone for Tanks of Thanks is easy, and anyone can nominate or be nominated for any act of kindness ­ big or small."

To make a nomination, visit and briefly describe why someone deserves a Tank of Thanks.

About Tanks of Thanks:

Tanks of Thanks, a multiyear program offered by Cenex, the CHS energy brand, encourages people to nominate others for free fuel as a way to recognize and reward their contributions to the community. Each month, 100 nominees are drawn at random to receive a Tanks of Thanks gift card worth $50 redeemable at any Cenex-branded retail location. In addition to the monthly drawing, Cenex retailers can also give away Tanks of Thanks gift cards to reward individuals they see doing good in their local communities. In 2012, Tanks of Thanks recognized more than 2,500 people. Visit to make a nomination and read stories from communities across the country.

Claremont Service

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