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Youth service students spring into action by spreading joy and kindness

Lyhnsay Yang writes letters to spread kindness

(4/9/20) If there was ever a perfect time to serve others through kindness, care and joy - this is it. 


High school students across the district may not be able to attend youth service club meetings after-school, mentor students at a neighboring elementary school or show up with a smile for service work at one of the many local non-profit organizations in our community - but they have found creative ways to collaborate and share their passion for making a difference while staying at home.


Tammy Peterson, youth service coordinator at Andover High School (AndHS), knew that the current situation would not deter students from service. “They are incredibly giving, kind, and thoughtful, I knew they would want to spread a little kindness during this crisis,” Peterson said. “Without hesitation and thoughtful insight, they've provided their own ideas and embraced suggestions on how to make a positive difference in their community.”

 Cambria Schmidt and family make cards to spread kindness

AndHS students - Dawson Clifton, junior, and Lyhnsay Yang, sophomore - have kept busy writing letters of inspiration to Lions Club members. “I felt it was important to write to the Lions since a lot of encouragement and kindness is needed for each other at this time,” Yang said. “I personally was looking forward to volunteering over spring break, but couldn’t due to COVID-19…[and] to make up for it, I found pleasure in writing letters to the Lions to spread positivity and hope.”


At Champlin Park High School (CPHS), Cambria Schmidt, junior, enlisted the help of her grandfather and siblings Brynn, seventh-grade student at Jackson Middle School; and Josee, a second-grade student at Champlin Brooklyn Park Academy, to make greeting cards to thank essential workers. “We wanted to brighten up their day with words of thanks to let them know they are appreciated, Izzy Guy picks up trash in the neighborhood and their effort to help the community is recognized," Schmidt explained. “Some of the cards had puns on them to make them laugh.”


More students in the Leo Club at CPHS were able to collaborate online, and then share pictures of their efforts in sending cards for essential workers at local hospitals, clinics, grocery stores; and leaving cards and bottles of hand sanitizer for postal workers in their own mailboxes. 


Izzy Guy and Erin Grimsrud, both juniors at CPHS, separately decided to do their part in supporting their neighborhoods while picking up trash while taking walks.


Anoka-Hennepin Community Education coordinates youth service activities and projects at all high schools. During the school year, a youth service coordinator is assigned to support students at each high school by coordinating meaningful leadership and service opportunities, trips and projects benefiting the community. Since students have not been able to attend school or previous extracurricular commitments in-person, youth service coordinators have been inspired by the passion of their students to continue serving the needs of our communities in creative, new ways.


“I wasn't quite sure what to expect of the students when #StayHomeMN was first announced, but was so pleasantly surprised when we scheduled a virtual meeting for the CPHS Leo Club leadership team - and 18 students logged on to participate,” Jane Hansen, youth service coordinator at CPHS, said. “They were all eager to engage their classmates in helping out in their community and demonstrated just how much they want to contribute to make things better.”