Carol and Jack Iten

Carol and Jack Iten are this year’s recipients of St. Anne’s Apple of Our Eye Award. The couple has volunteered for decades in numerous positions as custodians, coaches, ministers, non-profit organizers and more. The Itens are receiving the award just a few weeks before their 65th anniversary in October. (Carson Hughes/Le Sueur County News)

It was a special time of year in more ways than one for Jack and Carol Iten.

On Sunday, Sept. 22, the Le Sueur couple was recognized for their decades of service to the St. Anne’s School and parish at the church’s annual Applefest. The award comes just a month ahead of the couple’s 65th anniversary.

“I was surprised,” said Jack. “We never asked for anything in return except a thank you. It’s a treat to be honored.”

St. Anne’s Pastor Chris Shofner explained that the Itens were chosen based on their long history of helping out the church and school.

“They have been very involved in the church for many years. They’ve been volunteering since before I’ve been here,” said Shofner. “They both help out tremendously.”

The Itens have spent most of their lives in Le Sueur. Jack was born and raised in the St. Anne’s parish and has been a member for 87 years. Carol has resided in Le Sueur ever since she moved here in 1952.

Between raising seven kids, the Itens never had time to volunteer while their children were in school, but that changed after graduation.

“After they left, we felt it was our turn to pay back,” said Carol.

The couple started their charitable mission by becoming volunteer custodians for St. Anne’s. Jack and Carol spent their summers cleaning and maintaining the church and school grounds.

“It took us a lot of hours, but you do it because you want to do it,” said Carol. “We don’t expect to be repaid, so it’s a great honor.”

Over the years, the Itens have been involved in numerous charitable efforts. Carol helped organize the patrons of St. Anne’s nonprofit, which assists the school through an endowment fund and helps put on St. Anne’s annual fish fry. She has also volunteered in driving the elderly to doctor’s appointments. Jack is a member of the Knights of Columbus and helped organize St. Anne’s little league baseball team.

Both serve as Eucharistic ministers. To this day, the Itens continue to volunteer at the school a few days a week and at Meals on Wheels.

For the Itens, volunteering was something that just came naturally.

“You get involved when you have a family,” said Carol. “It’s a good feeling you get, so you just keep doing it.”

“We didn’t know how to say ‘No’ to things,” Jack joked.

The honor comes at a special time of year for the Itens. In October, they’ll celebrate six and a half decades of marraige.

“It’s going to be a big family event,” said Carol. “We’ll be getting together with our seven children, our 16 grandchildren and our 11 great grandchildren to celebrate the anniversary and the award.”

When it comes to volunteering, the Itens said they only need one thing in return: a thank you.

“All we ask is a thank you,” said Carol. “They give to you and you give back to them.”

The Itens received their award at Applefest on Sept. 22. The festival had a variety of family activities, including a silent auction, hog roast dinner, live music, a kids obstacle course and an exotic zoo.

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