Youth in Action students help at three non-profits as part of service trip

Photo: Youth in Action students outside Feed my Starving Children, one of three service organizations where they volunteered during a recent trip. Students include (standing L-R): John Wadd, Virginia; Mikaela Schelde, Connections Academy; Ella Esler, Mesabi East; Julia Gwash, Hibbing; Alexis Gwash, Hibbing; Cassidy Kampsula, Hibbing; Hunter Lease, Hibbing; Zach Jacobson, Chisholm; Connor Dudek, Hibbing; Chris Myhre, Mesabi East; and Landon Ryan, Mountain Iron-Buhl. (front row L-R): AnnMarie Kupka, Chisholm; Bridget Schelde, Virginia; Faith Tuin, Hibbing; Tigerlilly Anderson, Mountain Iron-Buhl; Kaija Gams, Chisholm; and Riley Wallace – Mesabi East.

A total of 17 Youth in Action students from six Iron Range schools completed a trip to assist children and families at three Twin Cities non-profit service organizations.

As part of the annual service learning trip, students helped prepare and serve a meal at the Ronald McDonald House, packed meals at Feed My Starving Children, and decorated grocery bags at Open Arms.

This was the largest group of YIA students to participate in the annual trip, which is now in its fourth year. YIA’s goal is to encourage community service and student leadership to organizations that assist those in need locally, statewide and beyond. Through volunteerism, students gain a better understanding of other people’s lives; increasing their own self-esteem and self-confidence, and gaining a sense of accomplishment, all of which helps them establish healthy relationships and make better lifestyle choices.

The service learning trip took place over three days in late July. The students involved attend school at Hibbing, Virginia, Mountain Iron-Buhl, Chisholm, Mesabi East, and Connections Academy.

Students first stopped at the Ronald McDonald House where they worked to prepare and serve a meal for families with sick children. Staff at the Ronald McDonald House told students that by making dinner, they were alleviating the task for families, so they could focus on the health of their child. YIA students also cleaned up after the meal.

Their next stop was to Feed My Starving Children, an organization that sends nutritious meals to children in need around the world. YIA students packed rice, soy, dried vegetables and a nutritionally complete blend of vitamins and minerals in bags to be shipped to children in Haiti. In one day, the students packed approximately 90 boxes, each containing 36 meals.

The final stop was Open Arms, an organization that got its start preparing and delivering meals to people living with HIV/AIDS and has since expanded to serve people living with cancer, multiple sclerosis and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). This was the first time YIA students helped at Open Arms. They focused their work on decorating grocery bags with messages of hope and colorful drawings to brighten the day of those receiving groceries.

Students also found time for fun during the trip, including a team building adventure at an Escape Room.

Among the feedback provided by students after the trip, one commented, “I learned that taking trips like this makes you a more pure, honest, a more helpful and kind person. It just gives you a good feeling in your heart for helping others. I also learned that people have gone through some really tough times but got through them, like the families at the Ronald McDonald house, those kinds of people are the real fighters.”

Another student commented, “Even just a couple hours of your time can go a long way.”

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