“Knowing you are helping other people makes you feel so good. We are ‘Better Together,’ just like the motto says this year. It’s so true,” said Whitney Ruger, a Student Council senior as the group got ready for their work assignment at YMCA Camp Algonquin.
It took the students working together to complete their assignment to help get the camp ready for winter. Working in teams they shared the load of carrying heavy canoes out of the water to winter storage buildings. They cleaned up along the beach, weeding and picking large rocks.
Together they took a boat ride to the island where benches and tables had to be ferried back across to the main camp and put into storage. It took several trips across the lake to bring back all the items. While some moved the items into storage, others stayed on the island to pick up trash or debris.
Being on the island brought back memories for sophomore Emma Reaser. “I remember having so much fun going to the island the last night of camp for bonfires. I came here for about five years. I think I started when I was about 7 years old,” she said. “It feels really good to be able to make sure the island will be cleaned up and ready for campers next summer.”
TKHS junior Lukas Walters said he enjoys being part of the Student Council work crew on Day of Caring. “It’s really important to give back to the community because the community gives so much to the schools.”
Sophomore Avery Hagemann agreed. “I think it’s good to show the community we appreciate everything they do for us and this is our way of supporting the community too.”
While one group of students stayed on the island, loading supplies and cleaning up, another group of students carried canoes out of the water to storage areas then helped unload the boat when it came back loaded with items for storage.
“We love giving back to the community for sure,” said co-student council leader Liz Ritsema as she swept dirt from the benches.
Co-advisor Caitlin Elsesser got a workout along with the students helping carry canoes from the lake into storage. “It’s definitely a good day,” she said, taking a short break. “It’s a great way to kick off the year with service to the community and then service to our school all year long.”
Student Council members attending today’s Day of Caring included Payton Gater, Avery Hagemann, Mia Hilton, Emma Reaser, Shelby Robinett, Whitney Ruger, Emma Schut, Lukas Walters, and Ava Zellmer, along with their two advisors.
More than 550 volunteers have signed up to work on various projects throughout the county this week as part of the United Way’s campaign kickoff for the year. Before work began this morning, volunteers gathered at the Barry County Expo Center for a thank you welcome and rally of support.
Lani Forbes, executive director of the United Way said the goal is to raise $750,000 this year to support the 34 programs and services United Way offers to the community. She gave examples of just a couple of the programs including Safe Harbor that helped 75 children last year, a crib program that provides safe sleep places for infants, weekly food distributions and Meals on Wheels for seniors. They also support scouts and YMCA programs along with the more than 1,600 young people involved in the Barry County 4-H program.
Matt Palmer, plant controller for Bradford White and a 2005 TK graduate, serves as this year’s campaign co-chair along with Emily Welker from Corwell Health. “Better Together is our motto this year. We are a community that cares,” he said.