Waconia students spend MLK Day serving others

Eighth graders David Nash and Lydia Larson serve soup to hungry customers. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)
Eighth graders David Nash and Lydia Larson serve soup to hungry customers. (Patriot photo by Todd Moen)

While some school districts take Martin Luther King Day off, students in Waconia not only spend the day in school but they use the opportunity to perform service projects to benefit others.
Service projects were held throughout the district on Monday, Jan. 21.
At the high school, for example, some students created baskets of hope (full of food and clothes) destined for area homeless shelters while others went out in the community and visited with senior citizens.
At Clearwater Middle School, the entire student body was involved in service learning projects.
According to Peter Gustafson, principal at Clearwater Middle School, fifth grade students helped create fleece blankets that will be donated to refugees who are now making their home in Minnesota. Sixth graders hosted a silent auction and will donate the proceeds from that event to families in need.
The seventh grade students bought the supplies and assembled thousands of sandwiches that were donated to the 363 Days Food Program / Sandwich Project of Minnesota, which helps feed homeless people in the Twin Cities metropolitan area. Gustafson said that this is the fourth year Clearwater has assisted the program and the students made well over 2,000 sandwiches on Monday.
Eighth grade students served a soup lunch for the public.
“The soup is served in ceramic bowls handmade by the students,” Gustafson explained. “The proceeds of the lunch are used to provide school supplies for our sister school in Bukoba, Tanzania, Africa. Several of our teachers have traveled to Bukoba and representatives of the Bukoba community have traveled here to visit our school to cement the relationship.”
Proceeds from the lunch will also aid efforts led by Rob LaRose, a former Clearwater student who is now a senior at Holy Family Catholic High School, who spent two weeks with his neighbor, Becky Knodt, working with and teaching children at Eukiteng Lepa School in Maji Moto, Kenya this past summer. The school is for rescued and orphaned children. The trip was arranged through GoPhilanthropic Travel.
“I’m going back this summer and I’m staying for a month,” said LaRose, who gave a presentation about his Kenyan experience to Clearwater students in December. “The proceeds will support classroom construction and sponsorship of students. It’s cool to see the students get so excited and passionate about it.”
LaRose is also collecting sports equipment to bring with him to Kenya this summer. He brought jerseys and — thanks to CDP Sports in Waconia — dozens of cleats and shin guards for the students last year.
“It was kind of funny. Here I was in the middle of Kenya and I was surrounded by all these kids who were wearing Minnetonka and Timberwolves jerseys,” he recalled.
The selfless spirit exhibited by LaRose and others is a perfect example of what the service day was all about.
“We are very proud of our students and their capacity for caring for others,” Gustafson said.

Contact Todd Moen at [email protected]