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Kindness is catching on

Doing something for people you don’t know is a whole ‘nother level of giving. For the Kindness Crew at Holy Redeemer School, it is just another week.

Photo by Jenny Kirk Holy Redeemer Kindness Crew members recently worked on a project that involved making knotted fleece blankets for children brought into the Avera Marshall emergency room.

MARSHALL

Looking around the room filled with more than 50 Holy Redeemer School students working on this month’s Kindness Crew project April 8, program visionary Amy Sauter was amazed.

“When we started the Kindness Crew in November, there were 18 kids and we’re getting close to 60 now,” Sauter said. “Each week, we’re adding, so it’s catching on and they’re having a good time. I think it’s awesome. I call it planting the seeds of kindness and giving back — something we have to start young.”

Working together or individually, the students and more than a handful of volunteers assembled fleece blankets for children who are brought into the Avera Marshall Emergency Room. The fabric was donated by families at Holy Redeemer.

“It’s really cool,” HRS student Peyton DeMuth said. “I like making these blankets.”

Sauter said the group was kind of brainstorming ideas and decided to make the emergency room comfort sacks.

“They’ll be given to kids that are taken to the ER,” she said. “Each sack is going to have a blanket, a little bear with a handwritten note from the kids and then some animal crackers.”

Sixth-grader Gabe Louwagie called the blanket-making experience “fun and interesting.”

“The biggest challenge is when you’re first starting,” Louwagie said. “You have to figure out what to do. Once you do, it gets pretty easy. I think (the young recipients) will love it.”

Fifth-grade student Ben Brandl kept plugging away to finish the blanket he was working on.

“You’re just taking one (strip of fabric), wrapping it around your finger and then sticking it through the hole,” he said. “I’ve only made one blanket in my whole entire life.”

Brandl and Louwagie are both charter members of the after school club.

“What I like about Kindness Crew is that it gives you a chance to do something for the world — for the homeless, the sick and all the heroes in the world,” he said.

Along with Sauter and resource teacher Mary Surprenant, moms Chandni Chatrath, Jill Thooft and Denise Odegaard consistently volunteer time for the student-driven activities.

“We’re making the ER blankets now for the kiddos that come into the emergency room, but we’re also delivering doughnuts and (personalized thank you) cards this week,” Odegaard said. “The kids made cards for all the city and county workers who helped with snow removal. They had more (workers) because we had so much snow.”

HRS student Raegan Bossuyt said she was inspired by people like those who moved snow this winter.

“It’s really awesome what they do for people,” Bossuyt said. “I like how we can thank them for helping others.”

In February, the students spread kindness in several different areas around the community.

“We went to three different day cares and read for I Love to Read Month in February,” Surprenant said. “The kids just loved it. They made a handmade banner for Mr. (Josh) Langseth, the principal. And the other reading thing we did was to collect over 1,000 kids books and more than 100 bags — Head Start had 90 kids. We did an assembly line, made bookmarks, bagged them and delivered them to Head Start.”

Sauter, whose daughters Estella and Berlin take part in Kindness Crew activities, calls the students a special group.

“These kids amaze me,” Sauter said. “They’re all about giving back. When they get here (after school), they’re ready to go. I’m very happy to be a part of it. This is awesome.”

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