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A fire destroys your home - you probably forgot your toothbrush

As part of a Nobles County Integration Collaborative grant, Southwest Star Concept High School and Worthington Middle School students put together comfort kits to donate to the American Red Cross Wednesday. (Submitted Photo)

OKABENA -- Southwest Star Concept High School students worked with Nobles County Integration Collaborative (NCIC) employees and volunteers Wednesday to assemble 50 comfort kits in conjunction with Global Youth Service Day, observed on Saturday.

The kits will be donated to the American Red Cross and given to disaster victims.

"We do this to promote service and get kids out there and do something positive in the community," said NCIC Integration and Youth Development Coordinator Lakeyta Potter.

She explained that the project was funded through a Southwest Initiative Foundation Impact grant, which has also funded other NCIC projects, such as the Color Project in January.

This is Southwest Star Concept's first year as a member school with NCIC, and Potter said she wanted to specifically do a project at SSC.

"I wrote the grant for SSC students to participate and get involved. We've done similar projects with other schools in the area, but since SSC is a new school to work with the collaborative, we really wanted to focus our efforts with the students there," she said.

Students were able to help assemble the kits during their lunch period in the gym and quickly completed 50 kits containing basic hygiene supplies including shampoo, combs, lotion, toothpaste and much more, Potter explained.

"It was an integrated experience" Potter said, with Worthington students also helping, including eighth-grader Efren Nuno.

When asked why he volunteered with the effort, Nuno's response was simple: "I decided to come because I like doing service for people, and it's a good chance to help. My favorite part was being involved and putting the kits together."

Nuno added that he has done other service work in the community before, including helping sort books at the library and helping "little kids."

Jennifer Hyk, executive director for the Southwest Minnesota and Prairie Winds Chapters of the American Red Cross, also participated in the event.

"The comfort kits will go out to fire victims or disaster victims, because often they don't get out of the house with their toothbrush or deodorant or anything like that," she said.

The kits would also be used if a disaster shelter was opened, Hyk added.

Hyk said that as long as there are no large disasters in the five-county regions she oversees, she expects the kits assembled Wednesday to last a long time.

"We have been having more fires lately, part of that was due to the power outages, but I would say that they should last about a year," she said.

"I'm just really appreciated of the students and the collaborative to get this together and provide a good experience for the students volunteering and make something that is very useful for the community," she added.

To participate in Global Youth Service Day on Saturday, Potter said the NCIC will take 30 students from its member schools to the Mall of America in the Twin Cities to "do the service projects that are happening at the Mall that day."

In the past, activities at the Global Youth Service Day at the mall have included writing letters to troops, assembling comfort kits and dental hygiene products.

Potter said that this year the students will tie blankets. The day will end with youth performances in the Mall of America Rotunda.

Daily Globe reporter Alyson Buschena may be reached at 376-7322.

Alyson Buschena
Alyson joined the Daily Globe newsroom staff after spending a year in Latin America. A native of Fulda and graduate of the University of Northwestern, she has a bachelor's degree in English with a dual concentration in Literature and Writing and a minor in Spanish. At the Daily Globe, Alyson covers the crime beat as well as Pipestone and Murray counties, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and cooking. More of Alyson's writing can be found at
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