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Worthington teen fulfilling driving requirement by assisting Meals on Wheels

WORTHINGTON -- A Worthington teen who recently acquired her Minnesota instruction permit is creatively earning hours behind the wheel while helping members of the community.

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DeLayne Kuhl (left) poses with her grandfather, Wendell Kuhl, outside the Center for Active Living in Worthington. (Submitted photo)

WORTHINGTON -- A Worthington teen who recently acquired her Minnesota instruction permit is creatively earning hours behind the wheel while helping members of the community.

DeLayne Kuhl recently turned 15, and on June 28 successfully took a written exam to obtain the permit -- one of the most critical steps in becoming a licensed driver.

Though she has conquered that milestone, she still has to put in a significant amount of time to become licensed -- 40 hours, specifically. As a result of a new state law, drivers with an instruction permit must document 40 hours of driving, 10 of those at night, with a licensed driver at least 21 years old in the passenger seat before taking the road test to secure the coveted card.

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DeLayne decided to get a jumpstart on her hours by driving for the Meals on Wheels organization.

“I got my permit, and I always do a community service for 4-H,” DeLayne said. “My grandpa does Meals on Wheels, and he was telling me about it.”

The incoming freshman has been driving with her grandpa, Wendell Kuhl, on his route, which he completes Mondays and Fridays.

“My grandpa’s route has about 10 meals,” she said. “I do twice a week with my grandpa, and I go a couple times to just prepare the meals.”

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While earning hours was her primary reason for participating in Meals on Wheels, it has since become more to her than solely tracking the clock.

“I like all of the people,” DeLayne said. “They are all just so nice and friendly.”

“A lot of them don’t drive, so they just love when somebody comes,” her mother, Melanie, added. “It’s enjoyable to hear their stories.”  

The meals are made in Luverne and brought to area communities where the individual drivers pack the meals to distribute. In Worthington alone, more than 50 meals are delivered each day. Some are dropped off at the Center for Active Living, where recipients can eat or pick up their meals.

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Less than one month into her new privileges, DeLayne has already logged more than 15 hours. But her grandpa isn’t the only family member getting a break from the wheel.

“I haven’t been able to drive for two weeks,” said Melanie. “Any little thing, like if we go get groceries, DeLayne volunteers and she’ll come and drive for me.

“I love it,” she continued. “I’ll be excited when she actually gets her license, too.”

Melanie said that even DeLayne’s younger brother, Levi, has enjoyed having a new driver in the family.

“Levi is thrilled,” she said. “He thinks he has his own chauffeur.”

While driving and logging 40 hours can be a tedious process, Melanie said it is beneficial to ensure that new drivers are prepared to encounter various environments and situations.

“It’s good for us to look and say, ‘You haven’t had a lot of exposure to roundabouts or whatever,’ so it’s been nice to take a look at the sheet,” she said. “Yeah, it is a little more paperwork, but it’s been neat to calculate.”

Overall, DeLayne has appreciated all of her experiences supporting Meals on Wheels, sitting behind the wheel and meeting new people.

“It’s a neat program, and (DeLayne) gets to help the community and gain hours at the same time,”  said Melanie.

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