MANDAN, ND - The holidays are a time of joy and giving. One Mandan resident knows this well and has made it his mission to spread cheer in our community while helping those in need on another continent.
For the past eight years, retired florist Arvid Morken spends six weeks out of the year dedicating his time to creating this winter wonderland of upcycled antiques in Mandan.
"There's no two alike, and my mind-- it's just somewhere in here. Somewhere it comes out, I'm not sure where. I just love doing it," Morken says.
These Christmas creations come from the heart. Each decoration is sold for a purpose at "Grandpa Gump's" Christmas store.
Morken says the net profit is used to support abandoned children in Romania.
"We can maximize our dollars for these because that's what's important-- is making sure these kids are fed and clothed. They're my kids. My original boys I started with were 12 and 13. They're now 25, 26. They're married. They have kids. And so, I'm an honorary grandpa five times," Morken says.
Morken says the proceeds have helped in a huge way. In his 20 years of visiting Romania, he's been able to help develop group homes for abandoned boys and girls, put kids through school, buy clothes and food and provide medical help at hospitals.
Morken says it's not him who's changed Romania, it's Romania that's changed him.
"I've gained a different appreciation for what we have and what they don't have. And yet, you know, those people are happy. That's maybe what got me the most. They're not always desiring for something else. They're just happy," Morken says.
Morken says grateful to be able to combine two of his passions to help make a difference.
Grandpa Gump's is open on Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 104 1st street Northeast in Mandan.