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Love Oakdale Project Aims To Draw Shoppers
Taking her enthusiasm to North Third Avenue each Wednesday, Love Oakdale Director Lisa Kjeldgaard pops into a business awarding $100 gift cards to downtown shoppers spending $25 or more. Photos Contributed

There’s been a lot of talk about downtown Oakdale and the North Third Avenue construction project. While some may choose to look to the negative, longtime community member Lisa Kjeldgaard has actually taken a misfortune and turned it into opportunity.

Kjeldgaard is the current director of Love Oakdale, a non-profit service club which focuses on helping Oakdale in a broad sense.

“I think we have thought of it as an event, for many years and I would like to make it more,” Kjeldgaard said, noting some recent projects which have been brought to her from community members or city officials.

While Kjeldgaard is passionate about all the work being done through Love Oakdale, it is her downtown Third Avenue presence which really appears to be helping the merchants, as well as the service club.

Following a Downtown Merchants meeting in mid-summer, Kjeldgaard shared she recognized the need to help the businesses. Fortunately, earlier in the year Love Oakdale had been given a decent amount of money by the church Redeemer Oakdale when they left the community. Using her Masters in Business Development background and a little ingenuity, the Love Oakdale director launched a Shop Third Avenue giveaway.

The premise is simple: each week customers e-mail photos of receipts from Third Avenue businesses amounting to $25 or more. The receipts are placed in a drawing and one lucky winner is awarded a $100 gift certificate from varying businesses each Wednesday during a live drawing on Instagram.

“I just think out of the box,” Kjeldgaard said of the shopping idea, adding that she did not anticipate when it was originally launched she would be doing it through January.

Each $100 gift certificate is purchased from the funds donated by Redeemer.

“Mostly trying to get people that weren’t already shopping on Third Avenue some incentive to shop on Third,” she said of the overall goal.

Kjeldgaard shared she receives about 50 entries a week, noting that some merchants have had customers add on to their orders to reach the $25 entry mark.

“Every little bit helps,” she said. “I don’t know that there could have been any better marketing. That wasn’t the goal when I set out to do it but what it’s allowed is an excuse for me to get on social media each week and tell people we’re down here.”

And with a wide variety of shopping options along the avenue, it’s well worth making the stop.

“It’s been super well received,” she continued. “Just raising awareness that Love Oakdale is here all year. That’s my number one goal. We want to serve the people of Oakdale all year long and really in a multi-faceted way.”

What appears to be a win-win partnership, Kjeldgaard shared while the general perception is that Love Oakdale is one day in April, she has been inspired by the City of Waterford which has truly capitalized on the year-round aspect of the service club.

“They’re definitely my goal,” she said of the neighboring town. “A lot of those things (Waterford projects) aren’t needed in Oakdale, which just made me look around and say what does Oakdale need and how can we get involved?”

Since beginning her weekly pop-ups downtown, as well as placing banners around town advertising the Love Oakdale effort, Kjeldgaard shared both their social media presence, as well as website activity, has increased. As of late she finds herself on the other side of random requests, such as needing hangers for a coat drive, finding a home for extra turkeys, as well as some in home maintenance for a community member. All in the name of the Love Oakdale mission.

“I want people to contact us who need help and connect them with people who can help them,” she said of working with the community, the city and non-profits. “I would love to be that conduit. Not only how do I help individuals, who need help and know that they can contact us, but help businesses who need help.”

Kjeldgaard added that the simple connecting of others for the betterment of the Oakdale community will benefit the annual event as well as its year-round efforts. In turn, she’s hoping that the year-round effort inspires others to get involved, even if just for the one day in spring.

“Every city needs a thriving business community,” she stated. “God just made me to love and serve other people. This is just one way I get to do that. To be able to walk into a store, or walk into a non-profit and say what do you need, how can we help you? That’s just what fills me. I feel like I’ve got the best non-job gig in the city. Who has a need that we can meet?”

For Kjeldgaard, the joy and reward come through making the connections and seeing the results.

“I just love the opportunity to be a bridge. Yearlong to get to hear people’s needs and find someone to get to meet them. I’m thankful for the way the community has welcomed us in.”

For additional information on Love Oakdale, the Third Avenue drawings or to express a need, visit or visit their Instagram page at love_oakdale.