Pequot Lakes High School students were determined to show lakes area taxpayers that they appreciate the improvements being made to their school, so the participated in a Day of Caring on Thursday, May 9.
From Baxter to Pine River and Pequot Lakes to Crosslake, residents saw students hard at work, whether it was raking, painting, cleaning or building.
“It’s nice to help the community, to volunteer,” said Alyse Brockway, a ninth-grader who was clearing brush from a garden at Trailside Park in Pequot Lakes.
“They do so much for our school and it’s just nice to give back,” agreed classmate Sarah Ciesluk, who worked alongside Brockway. They were part of a group that also planted flowers in containers at Pequot Lakes City Hall.
The city’s Park Board is always looking for help with city gardens, including watering, weeding and dead-heading flowers. Anyone interested can call city hall at 568-5222.
Students worked at both public and private places. Velma Kargel, 92, of Pequot Lakes, was thankful for the work students did at her home.
“Thank you boys, very, very much,” she told a group of students that included her great-grandsons, Devon Anderson and Brady Wickham. “It is absolutely wonderful because I would not be able to do it.”
Kargel said she attempted yard work because she loves it, but was suffering for it and in pain. They boys raked her yard, blew leaves, cleaned up pine needles and moved furniture onto her porch.
“It’s nice to step out and help the community,” said student Vincent Lockie.
“The school needed something like this,” added James Waymire before the group moved on from Kargel’s home to help install shelving at Little Monkeys, a children’s consignment store at the Jack Pine Center.
Alta (Olson) Hanson also appreciated students’ work to rake her yard and clean up pine needles.
“They did a lot. I haven’t been able to do much,” she said, noting she broke her neck a few years ago. “And they’re enthusiastic. They did as much as they could because it hasn’t been raked for awhile. They really worked hard.”
The Crosslake Corps of Engineers campground found itself a bit behind in spring cleanup due to the late snow, but had help from Pequot Lakes students who raked around campsites and buildings. Other students spread black dirt in the flower beds to prepare for flower planting.
Students also painted flagpoles at the Crosslake chamber building and along County Road 66.
Lynn Smith, a high school science teacher, was overseeing operations. She said the students were doing a good job and had visited more than one location the morning of May 9.
Smith said the work doubled as a way for students to complete some of their 10 hours of community service, which is required to graduate.
Bob Embertson, a Crosslake resident, had help from students in his yard.
“They helped me do a yard cleanup for the spring, and they were all very delightful, well-focused kids,” Embertson said.
Seniors Gunnar Kuehl and Zach Northenscold picked up trash at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Pequot Lakes.
“It’s good to reach out to the community,” Northenscold said, especially Gloria Dei, which he and Kuehl said hosts Chat and Chow every Friday, providing a free lunch to students.
A group of ninth-graders raked leaves at a private home in Pequot Lakes.
“It’s fun. It’s nice to get out,” said Brooke Swenson. “It’s nice because they’re really paying for our school to be done.”
Chip Rankin, high school principal, organized the Day of Caring. He was pleased with how the day went, saying students conducted themselves well and did a good job, and people were thankful for the students’ help. For some students, this was their first time volunteering, Rankin said.
“It will only grow,” he said. “This year it was a challenge to coordinate. Next year it will be even more fun.”
Other places students volunteered included churches in Pequot Lakes and Nisswa; businesses in Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point; parks in Pequot Lakes; senior housing in Pequot Lakes; private residences in Pequot Lakes and Breezy Point; Pequot Lakes fire tower; Breezy Point Hockey Arena; Breezy Point Resort and Grand View Lodge in Nisswa; Breezy Point City Hall and public safety building; Breezy Point and Jenkins cemeteries; Jenkins park and ballfield; Crosslake Community Center; Pine River Fish and Game Club and the walleye egg-stripping area in Pine River; Camp Confidence and Gull Lake Campground in East Gull Lake; Heartland Animal Rescue Team in Baxter; Minnesota Hockey Camp in Nisswa; Nisswa Park and Recreation; Nisswa Fire Hall; and Kids Against Hunger in Nisswa.