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Helping hands: Oltman students volunteer in St. Paul Park community

From left, Stephanie Hardy, Kallie Savage and Leslee Arroyo sort and hang donated clothes in the work room of the Stone Soup Thrift Store in St. Paul Park next to Oltman Middle School. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner1 / 2
Tyler Dehaan (foreground) and Charlie Moore dust items that are on display in the entrance area of the Stone Soup Thrift Store. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner2 / 2

The 146 seventh-graders in Oltman Middle School's Knights House were not in their regular classes one recent day, but they weren't absent either. They were helping the community.

The day of service learning is something the kids look forward to, said Kelly Kuhl, who helped plan the Feb. 10 events and is one of the Knights House teachers where students have the same core teachers for a year. Students also share the experience with their friends.

To get a better understanding of how volunteering relates to them, students watched videos before the service day about kids their own age who are making a difference in their communities.

"Kids are passionate," she said, and need to know the small things they can do to help.

Students also had a hand in choosing the projects they wanted to do, Kuhl said.

Students signed up for projects such as sorting books at the Park Grove Branch Library, visiting seniors at the Norris Square senior living facility, making craft kits for cancer patients in Children's Hospital, cleaning and sorting at the Stone Soup Thrift Store and making blankets for a local battered women's shelter.

They are helping their community and keeping it local, Kuhl said.

"The community does so much for us," said student Leah Christiansen. "We need to help them."

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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