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At Farmington High School, it's cold weather and warm hearts

FCCLA officers and committee members show some of the items that have been collected for the club’s on-going care package drive that started earlier this month. Students include Allie Welter, Tyler Boyer, Kendal Schmitz, Kelly McKnight, Marissa Muelken and Haley Schmitz. Boyer and Kendal and Hayley Schmitz are the committee members who set up the care package drive.

It’s a little ironic that the below zero temperatures of this January are also why a group of Farmington High School students are collecting items for the homeless.

But in a way, this year’s cold start may just wind up helping make the collection drive a little more successful.

See, the Farmington High School Family Career and Community Leaders of America Home Economics and Related Occupations team of students had planned to have a two-week drive to collect sundry items like toilet paper, personal hygiene items, blankets and so on. The Care Package Drive, as it was called, was supposed to start when students came back from the holiday break on Jan. 6, and run through last Friday.

But then, well, Farmington students got an extra two days off from school, thanks to the cold, sub-zero temperatures. And that delayed the start of the FCCLA HERO’s project.

A project, members say, that’s meant to provide items for Simpsons Housing Services, a program that provides transitional housing and support services to people who find themselves homeless or in need of assistance.

FCCLA HERO advisor Kate Peterson says one of the program’s initiatives is to practice and train members in leadership skills. Part of that objective is to do a community service project.

All members have the opportunity to plan and lead different projects though FCCLA HERO during the school year, Peterson said.

Care Package Drive committee members include Tyler Boyer, Kendal Schmitz and Haley Schmitz. In deciding what to do, the trio looked at several different organizations and the needs of those programs. Once they called Simpson Housing Services and found out what the needs there were, they knew what they wanted to do for a community service project.

“We knew they needed help, and we knew we could make a difference by doing this,” Kendal Schmitz said. “We wanted to do something that could help a lot of people, something that would be bigger than just the local community.”

The committee is collecting all types of items for the care packages -- toothpaste, shampoos and conditioners, combs and brushes, facial tissues and blankets are just a few of the kinds of things that have been collected so far.

They’re also working with other groups around the school. For instance, the Coupon Club turned in a bunch of coupons and got some free items to donate.

Honestly, Boyer said, the club is accepting just about anything. If people have extra hats or mittens to donate, those types of items are also welcome.

“We’re taking anything that will keep you warm in the cold,” Boyer said. “And it doesn’t matter what it is. We’re taking things for all ages and genders, kids through adults.”

Since they got a late start on the project, the FCCLA HERO members have decided to extend the collection period through the end of the month. They have red boxes set up around the high school, but they’d also like to put a few in businesses around town, in hopes of getting more donations.

The goal, Kendal Schmitz said, is to collect enough items to fill 50 care packages for Simpson Housing Services. They’d love to do even more than 50, so they’re hoping parents of FHS students will send some items along to the school before the end of the month.

“If everyone brought in just one thing, we could have so much to give them,” Haley Schmitz said.

Parents and community members can also drop things off at Farmington High School, as there is a drop-off box near the front entrance of the school.

Michelle Leonard

Michelle Leonard joined the Woodbury Bulletin staff in November, 2014, after 14 years covering news for the Bulletin's sister publication, the Farmington Rosemount Independent Town Pages.  Michelle earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communications: News-Editorial from Mankato State University in 1991. She is an active member of the American Legion Auxiliary Clifford Larson Unit 189 of Farmington, and served as the 2014-15 Third District President to the American Legion Auxiliary Department of Minnesota. Michelle is also the volunteer coordinator for the Minnesota Newspaper Museum which is open annually during the Minnesota State Fair. She has earned Minnesota Newspaper Association awards in Investigative Reporting, Local News Coverage, Feature Photography and Column Writing. 

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