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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Today's youth: Burden, or resource?

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Perham, 56573
Perham Minnesota 222 2nd Avenue SE 56573

As a society, do we view children as a burden or a resource?

Unfortunately, I believe we too often, see them as the former. Don't get me wrong. We like them and they are nice to have around but you can't deny it, they ARE expensive. My goodness, if we didn't have to educate them, feed them, provide daycare and healthcare; just think of the money we'd accumulate. We could all have nicer cars, bigger houses, and take more vacations. Come to think of it, I'd like a bigger, better boat. You get it...quality of life issues.

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Here are a couple of situations that may cause us to rethink our attitude toward these "takers". It's just a snapshot of the past two weeks.

--- March 13 and 14-- Over 1,200 students and staff from the public and private school system in Perham packaged meals to feed the children of Haiti. Organizers from the "Feed My Starving Children" group could not believe the fund-raising efforts and work ethic of our young people. When each group finished their shift, they prayed over their efforts. Service to mankind.

--- March 23-- The Perham Food Shelf flooded, putting at risk the local food source for our most needy. One call and our Area Learning Center kids were there with their instructor. A Food Shelf director called our students "a Godsend". Our kids were offered money, but they wouldn't take it. These same kids have many needs of their own and could use any financial resource provided. But they also understand that when you are a part of a community, there are times you are asked to sacrifice for the benefit of others. Three days later the Food Shelf again needed help to reload supplies into a semi-trailer. This time they got a different group of kids from PHS: athletes, artists, honor students, girls, and boys, and handicapped. They provided necessary help; again asking for nothing in return. Service to the poor, in many cases by the poor.

--- March 26-- Because our school district cannot afford it, PHS students raised $2,000 in one hour to pay for 8 buses (one bus was paid for by a PHS senior); to go to the Red River Valley to sand bag. 390 PHS students and staff made the trip. Sandbags arrived via boats to the site where our kids worked. Our students and teachers used the same boats to shuttle back and forth. One overwhelmed homeowner asked a teacher for a business card so he could formally thank the people and community of Perham. Backbreaking work that few adults could sustain was provided by our area's youth.

Dennis Walaker, mayor of Fargo, with his voice cracking from fatigue and emotion, made an announcement (which, due to modern technology was sent around the world) proclaiming that "If anyone questions the spirit and quality of high school and college students, you need not do so anymore". If Fargo-Moorhead is to be spared it will be primarily due to teenagers; if F-M succumbs, the lesson is still the same...Service to your neighbor.

So I ask you. Do you see children as a burden or a resource?

In the selfish, self-absorbed world of adults I am beginning to wonder if we are worthy of our youth. Where did they come from? In a short period of ten years they will be making decisions about how they will treat the elderly. Will you blame them if they turn inward?

Due to demographics, the elderly and "baby boomers" currently make up a large percentage of our state and community. Due to our form of government the majority will rule. When the tide shifts, I pray they will treat us better than we have treated them; given the past two weeks I don't think they'll let us down. Ironic, isn't it?

Fred Sailer

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