Bosek honored with 4-H leadership award

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The community service project created by Anakin Bosek includes an emotional keepsake chest with feeling stones and cards, along with a tie blanket, neck pillow and personal care items such as toothbrush and toothpaste. (Lowell Anderson / Echo Press)

When a family member was going through some medical issues a few years ago and trying to deal with all the emotions that go along with it, Anakin Bosek came up with a way to help.

He created the idea of an emotional keepsake chest. The chest includes stones with words like joy, fear, hope, anger and many others, written on them, along with index-style cards explaining the definitions of each of the emotions. The small wooden chest also includes blank stones and cards to write down extra feelings or memories.

Bosek, the son of Jim and Julie Bosek of Garfield, is an 11th-grader in the Brandon-Evansville School District and a 4-H member.

He decided to take his idea to the Ronald McDonald House in Rochester so cancer families and patients could express their feelings and thoughts more easily and clearer to those around them. After contacting the house, he was told they were interested in his idea of the emotional keepsake chest and he was asked to make 100 of them.

“I wanted to do this as a way to pay it forward,” said Bosek.


Since that time, hundreds of chests have been made and are now part of a whole care package that also includes a tie blanket, neck pillow and personal care items. And Bosek enlisted some help. The comfort care packages are now a community service project for 4-H groups in both Douglas and Pope counties, along with other youth groups.

Although Bosek’s emotional keepsake chest and care project began a few years ago, he was honored at the Association of Minnesota Counties conference in March with the 2020 4H Community Youth Leadership Award.

The award

The 4H Community Youth Leadership Award is an application-based award. Gladys Sanborn, a longtime Douglas County 4-H leader, filled out the application, including a nomination letter that was also signed by Douglas County Board Chairman Keith Englund.

County commissioners from all 87 Minnesota counties voted on the submitted nominations and three were chosen as winners. Bosek’s project was one of the three winners.

Bosek, along with four other 4-H members -- Jacob Schaffran, Caden Abel, Riley Bundermann and Tahira Schaffran -- presented information about the project in front of all the commissioners at a banquet at the AMC conference.

Along with the award, Bosek received $500 to go toward the project.

At a recent Douglas County Board of Commissioners meeting, Bosek was presented with the award.

The packages

The comfort care packages have expanded and now include the keepsake chests, tie blankets and neck pillows made by 4-H members, goat soap made by Christina Kuismi, toothbrushes and toothpaste, and a comb and brush. All the items are put into bags that have been donated by Gate City Bank.


The volunteer groups involved now include 4-H members from Douglas and Pope counties, Brandon-Evansville National Honor Society students and Boy Scout Troop 440. Members of these groups have held fundraisers for either items to be donated or for cash to purchase the items needed.

“We have learned about money management and public relations through this project,” said Bosek.

Last fall, 100 of these care packages were delivered again to the Ronald McDonald House.

It is Bosek’s hope that volunteer groups will continue the project and keep delivering these packages to the Ronald McDonald House.

He thanked all of those who have helped thus far, including the youth groups that worked on the care packages, as well as those who made donations.

Any groups interested in helping can contact Bosek at .

Celeste Edenloff is the special projects editor and a reporter for the Alexandria Echo Press. She has lived in the Alexandria Lakes Area since 1997. She first worked for the Echo Press as a reporter from 1999 to 2011, and returned in 2016 to once again report on the community she calls home.
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