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It's all in the family...

Kaleva Apartments residents, from left, Jean Jasmer, Mary Lee Maki, and Alice Peach visit outside the community room while looking over a care package they put together for fellow resident Arlene Wick, who is undergoing cancer treatment in Fargo.

It's one big family at Kaleva Apartments in New York Mills, and family does what it can to take care of one another. So when Arlene Wick, 75, had to go to Fargo for cancer treatment, some of her Kaleva family wanted to show they were thinking of her.

Mary Lee Maki posted a note on the communications board asking for residents to gather comfort items for Wick, who will need to stay in Fargo and away from home for about 7 weeks during radiation treatment.

"We just thought it would be a nice idea to send her a care package. I can see her face now. She'll be very pleased, and she'll turn every shade of red," Mary Lee joked as she talked last week about Arlene with fellow residents Jean Jasmer and Alice Peach.

The care package contains simple items like snacks, lotions, letter writing supplies, books, cards, etc., which the ladies hope will help Arlene feel a little more connected to home. Pastor Ryan Stoudt of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Mills will deliver the package his next trip to Fargo.

Jean and Arlene sit together at church. "She's a much loved lady. I've known her for ages and ages," Jean said.

Arlene has been a resident at Kaleva for about five years. Mary Lee said Arlene doesn't have family around here, but Arlene's parents were among the first to live at Kaleva about 30 years ago. The ladies describe Arlene as a very intelligent and independent woman, who keeps an immaculate apartment.

And they miss having her around.

"She plays the piano beautifully," Alice commented. "It's so nice to hear her playing in the evenings. Sometimes I'll sneak down here (to the community room) and listen to her play."

Since they consider Kaleva one big family, the ladies said it's nice to see residents send cards to help lift spirits. This situation, with the cancer treatment, is different and Mary Lee wanted to do a little something extra by putting together the care package.

"She will be just thrilled and I wish we could be there to see it," Mary Lee said with a smile. "I've been a nurse and I know how much something like this can do for morale."