A lesson in giving back

Lily Lake fourth-graders learn how their class project helps others

By ERIK SANDIN – Stillwater Gazette

A school project turned into a life lesson Wednesday for fourth-graders from Lily Lake Elementary School.

The three classes donated potholders and washcloths students knitted to Valley Outreach’s Dawn’s Closet. But the children’s visit did not stop at just leaving their donated items. The youngsters toured the social service agency, learning about the food shelf, training kitchen and Dawn’s Closet.

Lily Lake teacher Michelle Pentland said the group’s visit to Valley Outreach culminated a service project the school’s three fourth-grade classes started during the school year.

"The three of us like to do service projects," she said. "This was our focus."

The students liked the idea of doing something for their community, although the knitting process started slowly, Pentland said.

"They’re really supportive," she said about the students. "Teaching a 10-year-old to knit was interesting."

Pentland said it did not take students too long to get the hang of knitting and create nearly 200 items given to Dawn’s Closet.

"Our population at Lily Lake, we have a lot of people who love to donate," Pentland added. "It’s a good experience for the kids."

During a tour of Dawn’s Closet, students learned that hundreds of families received thousands of free items from the store, according to manager Dana Massopust.

"Four hundred families came through here last month," Massopust said. "We had lots of people come through."

She added that those 400 people received 7,000 free items of clothing and other personal and household goods.

And while Massopust was grateful for the Lily Lake fourth-graders donations, she said there is something else she really wants. It’s something that the youngsters probably give little thought to.

"That would be socks and underwear," she said. "When I do clothing drives, what do I need? Socks and underwear."