Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Kids' Company

I love it when we get emails from people wanting to help support our cause and/or wanting to donate to Ella's Halo. I love it even more when supporters approach us with their own idea about how they can help Ella's Halo. 

Kevin from Kids' Company in Prior Lake, Minnesota contacted me and wanted to find a community service project his 5th grade class could do this summer.  Together we came up with a blanket/book drive and from there the kids took over and did all of the work arranging the donations and making blankets.  What an awesome lesson for these kids to learn about helping their community and others in need. Plus we got to go and talk to them and thank them in person for all of their hard work.  It was a fun day meeting all of the 5th grades that are helping us continue our mission, and the hugs and high fives were pretty fun too.

Check out the story and pictures about Kids' Company helping Ella's Halo.  Prior Lake American Newspaper did a feature story on August 5th with a follow up story coming out this week. 

Local angels help ‘Ella’s Halo’
by Meryn Fluker
Prior Lake
August 05, 2011

WestWood Elementary School’s halls are full of students, in lines, in pairs or alone, with adults guiding and directing them, even though it’s summer. Winding through the building’s maze of corridors – forward, a quick left, then a right – punctuated with easels reminding students of the activities they’ll soon participate in, eventually you’ll come to a bustling room full of excited fifth-graders and the adults who care for them.

On Tuesday, the room’s floor was dotted with partially finished “no-sew” fleece blankets, the cozy and colorful leftovers of a morning activity and the child care’s latest charitable venture.

Since last week, Kids’ Company students in grades four through seven have directed their energies toward benefiting Ella’s Halo, a Richfield-based nonprofit dedicated to easing struggles for families of children born prematurely. The fifth-graders, corralled by Site Leader Kevin Humbert, have taken the project’s reins. The students drew and designed posters advertising the drive, which collects books and disposable cameras for Ella’s Halo to provide to families whose children are in neonatal intensive care units (NICUs), and also decorated boxes to hold donations. Area parents Ryan and Taryn Krumwiede founded the charity in late 2009 and named it for their prematurely born daughter Ella, who lived in an NICU for 83 days before passing away.

“One thing the hospital lacks is small comforts of home, those personal items new parents have for their newborn babies,” Taryn Krumwiede said. “Having a special blanket to wrap Ella in was important to us, and it helped us be able to feel like her parents even though doctors and nurses were really taking care of our daughter on a daily basis. We felt that others in the NICU missed those small comforts of home, too, so we wanted to do something to help bring that into the hospitals.”

The Kids’ Company fifth-graders got crafty, making five sizes of the no-sew bed and crib coverings – often called “tie blankets.” That day, trios and quartets of students made about 30 blankets, 10 more than Humbert had anticipated.

“I was obviously excited that we were able to exceed that goal,” he said. “We had 37 kids and every single one of them participated.”

The students participated despite varying levels of familiarity with the craft.

“In third grade, we had something just like this, where we made blankets and scarves,” said 11-year-old Cameron Mathis of Savage.

“I knew how to tie them because I was in Girl Scouts, but I didn’t know how to measure and cut them,” added 10-year-old Leah Keil, also of Savage.

Cameron even made an extra blanket in his group. The students cut and measured the fabric and tied the fleece pieces together, completing the blankets in time for an Ella’s Halo representative to pick them up. The blankets are made to fit beds in Children’s of Minnesota’s Minneapolis and St. Paul hospitals and the University of Minnesota’s Amplatz Children’s Hospital.

Humbert was unaware of Ella’s Halo until he began organizing Kids’ Company’s involvement.

“I was kind of struggling with, ‘How far do we want to go with this?’” he said. “As site leader, I kind of felt like it was my duty to get it started.”

Humbert is supported by co-site leader Katie Youngblut and assistants Jessica Arseneau, Renee Orton and Jean Borger.

“I think it’s fabulous,” Borger said of the project.

Though Ella’s Halo helps families of children far younger than the Kids’ Company fifth-graders tying those blankets, Humbert thought the two organizations were a great match.

“I think because it’s for premature babies, they can make that connection more, because many of them have little brothers and sisters who are babies,” he said. “I just think they’re at the age where they’re able to appreciate the cause.”

Krumwiede is excited by Kids’ Company’s involvement and said it would be a “great lesson” for the students that will last a lifetime.

“I love the fact that other children are organizing this drive and wanting to give back,” Krumwiede said. “Not only is Kids’ Company helping the families and babies in the NICU, they are also learning life lessons about giving and caring for others in need. We are so thankful for their kind donations and for them wanting to support our cause.”

Humbert worried that the students would struggle with the work, even though they’ve done community service crafts this year and in past sessions. The students trust Humbert and responded positively to making the blankets for Ella’s Halo. Ten- and 11-year old girls chase Humbert as he moves throughout the room, calling choruses of “Kevin” – the leader swears he hears his name 4,000 times daily at work.

“I think it’s pretty helpful,” Cameron said. “It was pretty fun. I wouldn’t mind doing that for an hour a day every day or once a week, making blankets.”

WestWood Elementary- 5th Grade Class donating to Ella's Halo

 Check out the article here at Prior Lake American. 


Nika M. said...

That's awesome!

Melissa said...

Love this! It truly is amazing to see people's kindness isn't it?

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