MARSHALL - They could have been sleeping in, looking at prospective colleges or getting some extra work hours in, but metro area students instead got up early this week and performed volunteer work in Marshall and other Midwestern locations.
The volunteer organization, Students Today Leaders Forever, coordinates the Pay It Forward Tour, which is a multi-day, multi-city community service road trip, according to the website, stlf.net.
There are 40 students, four leaders/mentors and an instructor, said Lissa Skogstad, a junior at the University of Minnesota.
Photo by Karin Elton
Charlotte Thomasson, a freshman at Minnetonka High School, reaches to place a can in a box Thursday morning at the Western Community Action Kitchen Table Food Shelf. She was part of a volunteer organization, Students Today Leaders Forever, that stopped in Marshall to perform community service.
Skogstad said the group will go to Nebraska, Kansas and Missouri after leaving Marshall.
This is Skogstad's third year with the program and many of the students are repeat volunteers, as well.
"This traveling leadership experience focuses on service, education, reflection and a commitment to action," said Zerr Her, a fifth year communications studies major at the University of Wisconsin-LaCrosse, who is a mentor to the high school students.
"We wake up, eat breakfast and go to the next location," he said. "We also do fun activities in-between."
Charlotte Thomasson, a Minnetonka High School freshman, said she read about the organization in a school newsletter and thought, "that's cool" and she signed right up after talking it over with her mother.
"I wanted to help people, to make a difference," she said.
Patrick Cauley, a Minnetonka High student, said the trip was a "fun time to meet people and do community projects with friends."
Thomasson said there are movies to watch on the long bus rides, plus she reads and writes in her journal.
"I want to remember this time and share it with people," she said.
Thomasson said the students pay for going on the trip.
"(STLF) tries to keep the costs down by having us stay at places like the YMCA, and they also provide breakfast," she said.
In addition to helping at Western Community Action Kitchen Table Food Shelf, another STLF group is sorting coats at Carrow's Cleaners for the Coats for Kids program, said Margaret Palan of WCA.
"They're a great group," she said.
"I totally wish I would have had this experience when I was in high school," Her said.