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Giving back in Garfield

Third grader Cruz Klug holds a bag open as fifth grader Walker Giese fills it with leaves raked by the students. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)1 / 2
Fifth grader Kenna Klocke (front) and third grader Leah Olberding (back) rake leaves for a resident in Garfield on Thursday, Nov. 2. (Beth Leipholtz / Echo Press)2 / 2

What began as a one-time project in Garfield has now been going strong for 13 years.

Each fall, students from Garfield Elementary School take one afternoon to go out and rake and bag leaves for Garfield residents. The project began in 2004, when a student teacher had an assignment to have their class do a service project.

"The kids enjoy a chance to get outside and help other people in the community," said Joe Hurlbut, a fifth grade teacher involved with this year's project. "They get to go out with their classmates and do something they usually wouldn't. I also don't think they mind getting a little break from math and reading to go outside, get some fresh air and do a little raking."

The students enjoy having the opportunity to give back. Fifth-grader Kenna Klocke says she especially likes to help older residents.

"We get to be outside and help people around the community and have fun," she said. "Some of these elderly people can't get out every day and rake so we want to help them."

Other students enjoy the opportunity to enjoy the last of the fall weather.

"It's fun to rake because we don't have to sit inside class and do math," sid Cruz Klug, a third-grader.

Parents of students also chip in, taking the time to accompany groups of students around town.

"They (students) get a real world experience on what it means to be civic minded and volunteer," Hurlbut said. "It allows them to learn about coming together as a community to help others, especially when students, parents and teachers take out time in their busy schedules to help others. It shows how important volunteering is."

West Central Sanitation also helps by taking the leaves free of charge. Hurlbut says the hope is that experiences like these teach students the value of volunteering.

"They get the great feeling you have when you help someone outside of yourself and we hope it encourages the kids to volunteer on their own going forward," he said.

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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