Students seek spring choress

FAIRMONT – Cleaning out the garage.

Raking the yard.

Planting flowers.

Getting the garden ready.

Staining.

Painting.

The list of chores every spring seems endless and often overwhelming, but don’t despair. Help is available, and it’s free.

Hundreds of Fairmont Junior/Senior High School students will participate in the Cardinal Connection Service Project Day on May 16. And they are looking for work “in a big way,” according to Chris Engelby, high school health and physical education instructor and coordinator of the project.

“This is going to be our sixth year, and our number one priority is to try and help more residents in our community,” Engelby said.

Trying to find enough projects for about 800 students can be a daunting task, but for Engelby, the rewards are amazing.

“It’s just the best feeling in the world,” she said.

Students are divided into smaller groups and select a project, most taking about three hours.

“Groups are anywhere from 15 to 19 students, and there are 48 groups that need projects to do in our community,” Engelby explained.

“We try to help military families every year, and we’re really trying to get older people in the community who might need a little help with their homes.”

She encourages residents, especially senior citizens, to apply for a crew of helpers. She hopes people will forgo any possible feelings of “pride” and realize the good feelings the projects give the students would negate any reluctance.

Previous years have found the students at private homes, churches, the animal shelter, nursing homes and parks.

And previous years have also found Engelby spending many hours scrambling to find enough projects for all the students.

She hopes this year will be different.

An application was included in the school district’s monthly newsletter at the website: www.fairmont.k12.mn.us. Click on Fairmont Junior/Senior High School, then activities. Select CC Service Learning Project to print out an application. Forms are also available at the school’s office.

The students will start at 10 a.m. and be done by 2 p.m. Applicants should supply all materials needed for the project, such as paint, brushes, yard tools and garbage bags. The students are on their own for lunch.

“We do have to stay within the city limits,” Engelby said.

A trio of seniors – Mikayla Krzywicki, Lisa Craig and Jill Paris – share Engelby’s passion for the service day. Their enthusiasm is evident when they recall past projects and anticipate this year’s event.

Krzywicki has worked with groups that painted sheds and worked at the softball fields. Last year, they noticed a neighbor needed some assistance so some students broke away from the group to edge the grass along his sidewalk.

“My favorite thing is to actually help people in the community,” she said. “It makes you feel good about yourself.”

Craig has helped out at churches, the animal shelter and a day care. Last year found her group working next door to her grandmother’s house, cleaning up and clearing out gutters.

“Sometimes, [applicants] just want to sit and chat,” she said.

Paris has cleaned up garbage and trimmed trees at Cedar Park. She laughs when she recalls the excitement of a foreign exchange student from Italy who experienced operating a lawn mower for the first time.

“Everybody’s ready to go [this year],” she said.

“The whole purpose of the project is to have kids understand what it means to volunteer to help others – to help and learn,” Engelby said.

For more information on the service project day, email Engelby at: cengelby@fairmont.k12.mn.us or by calling (507) 235-4164.