BLACKDUCK -- Congressman Pete Stauber of Minnesota’s 8th District visited Anderson Fabrics factory on Tuesday to personally thank the management and employees for their critical work in the manufacture and distribution of personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Anderson Fabrics is the first stop on what Rep. Stauber, R-Duluth, calls his Gratitude Tour.

“There is no better place to begin that at Anderson Fabrics in Blackduck,” the congressman said. He praised the company for making a transition from one of the largest manufacturers of draperies, shades, swags and other window treatments “to the production of personal protective equipment to ensure that healthcare heroes on the front lines of this pandemic have what they need and keeping so many Minnesotans safe. It is incredible to see Minnesota’s companies shifting gears the way they have.”

Starting with this visit, Stauber plans to visit Minnesotans across the 8th Congressional District who have gone above and beyond in helping their communities during this pandemic to highlight their good deeds.

Gesturing around at the staff and management of Anderson fabrics who had gathered -- with appropriate distancing -- before the stage erected for his visit, the Congressman said, “This is who we are. It is a snapshot of the American dream; this caring, compassionate country. Right here -- you are keeping us safe through this worldwide pandemic and as we go forward we will become a stronger and better nation than we’ve ever been before.”

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Nina Anderson, a longtime employee at Anderson Fabrics and a staple and pillar of the community of Blackduck, composed an original poem about COVID-19 and how the company became involved in producing masks. The poem talks about the dedication of the people who are sewing and packing masks; the distance they travel; the meaningful way in which the team at Anderson is making a difference; and finally, the sadness felt by so many about the necessity of this service and the unmitigated death toll that has surpassed that of the Vietnam War.

Congressman Stauber mentioned the poem in his remarks, saying, “I would have to check anyone not moved by your words to see if they had a pulse,” to which the crowd gave a round of applause. Following his remarks, the Congressman presented Nina with a T-shirt.

“We are fortunate to be deemed an essential business,” said Anderson Fabrics Corporation President Hans Halvorson. “Not only for the healthcare workers, but because it has given us the opportunity to serve in a profound and impactful way by providing critical PPE across the country and the world. We are proud to serve on the front lines and thankful to be working and making a difference. This has positively impacted all of us with a deep appreciation of our work here and we acknowledge all of the workers at Anderson Fabrics for the great work we have accomplished.”

Jennifer Morrison, Anderson Fabrics director of sales and marketing, said she was thrilled to have had the chance to welcome Congressman Stauber and grateful that the employees all had the opportunity to hear his words of praise.

“We try to say thank you to our staff as often as possible and to let them know how much their work means,” she said. “But hearing this from our Congressman about the powerful impact of their work will be even more meaningful to them.”

“Nothing has given me more hope during this crisis than hearing stories of Minnesotans lending a helping hand to others,” said Congressman Stauber. “There is no better example of this than Anderson Fabrics and your work to manufacture PPE for the healthcare workers on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. I want to personally thank you for your monumental contribution.”