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Planting the seeds of growth

Donna and Don Aufdenberg of Jackson, Missouri, tend the seedlings they planted to be shared with community gardens.
Photo by Robert Whiteside

Thrivent’s 1 millionth Thrivent Action Team provides fresh produce to people in need in southeast Missouri.

Donna Aufdenberg eats, lives and breathes horticulture. “God gives each of us talents, and my talent is bringing things to life through seeds,” says the Thrivent client from Jackson, Missouri.

Through her work with the University of Missouri Extension, the horticulturist educates people in 18 counties in southeast Missouri on topics ranging from growing grass to growing plants in greenhouses to commercial production.

But it’s not all work for Donna. Through her volunteer efforts, she also is making a real difference for community gardens and food pantries in southeast Missouri. For nearly the past decade, using the home she shares with her husband, Don, and their twin daughters, Donna has started seeds and plants to feed people who need them.

Thrivent Action Teams were launched in 2014 to make it easier for clients to give back to causes they care about most, and Donna does just that. She became a Thrivent client in 2016 when she received a surprise inheritance and wanted to work with a financial services organization that shared her values of leading with purpose and generosity.

With Thrivent Action Teams, Donna saw the potential to provide fresh produce to even more people. She leads Thrivent Action Teams of Master Gardeners to help with planting seedlings and then transferring them to community gardens. She buys soil with the seed money from the Thrivent Action Team.

Donna’s selfless support of her community also marks a milestone for Thrivent. Her effort is the 1 millionth Thrivent Action Team. Thanks to efforts like Donna’s across the country over the past nine years, Thrivent Action Teams have raised more than $1 billion for organizations nationwide.

We’re proud of all the amazing things our clients have achieved through Thrivent Action Teams, and we can’t wait to see what they do with the next 1 million!
Carolyn Sakstrup, Thrivent's chief growth and generosity officer

Donna tends the seeds in her basement, nurturing them under LED grow lights until they sprout. They then get moved into one of two greenhouses in her backyard until they’re ready to be transplanted into the community gardens.

“The plants grow and in turn feed families that are in need, or they feed into the food pantry system,” she says. Ultimately, Donna distributes hundreds of vegetable seedlings to nine community gardens, helping meet a need in an area where many people have limited access to healthy, affordable food.

“Every day, God provides miracles, and seeds coming up is that miracle,” Donna says. “I know the seed money has made all the difference in the world of what I can provide. When I hear back from the community gardens and the food pantries and how they’re able to utilize what’s being produced, it really makes me thankful that I have the opportunity to do this.”

The 1 millionth Thrivent Action Team milestone and $1 billion raised nationwide speaks to the very heart of what Thrivent is about as the organization empowers clients to lead lives full of meaning and gratitude, says Carolyn Sakstrup, Thrivent’s chief growth and generosity officer.

“These volunteer efforts across the country reflect the compassion and care our clients have for those who need it most in their local communities,” Sakstrup says. “We’re proud of all the amazing things our clients have achieved through Thrivent Action Teams, and we can’t wait to see what they do with the next 1 million!”

Celebrating the impact of 1 million Thrivent Action Teams


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You should only purchase and keep insurance and annuity products that best meet the financial security needs of you and your family and never purchase or keep any insurance or annuity products to be eligible for nonguaranteed membership benefits.

The client’s experience may not be the same as other clients and does not indicate future performance or success.