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Perham’s first Day of Caring a success by all accounts

As teams of students met up to do extra projects, like pick up garbage near the middle school. Submitted photo1 / 2
A whopping 92 students, almost twice the number hoped for, volunteered for Perham’s first-ever Day of Caring event. More than a dozen adults also volunteered as group supervisors. Thirteen projects were completed for senior residents and the city. Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS 2 / 2

Perham’s first-ever Day of Caring has received praises from all directions within the community.

“We had a final count of 92 students,” said Christi Stoll, the Volunteer and Events Coordinator at United Way of Otter Tail County.

That number far exceeded her expectations: she had been hoping 50 students would register.

Even though it was drizzling and foggy for most of the morning last Wednesday, nine private home and four city projects were still finished an hour before expected.

Garbage bags were filled with trash and leaves, fences painted and flower beds cleaned.

“People never say anything about the good kids, but these were very good kids and they really did a good job,” said Bobbie Sachs of Perham.

Nine students came out to help cut off her lilies and clean out flower beds.

“I’m at the top of the list of happy people,” she said.

Ruth Ann Palmer got four volunteers to help move rocks from a landscaping project.

“I enjoyed having them here,” said Palmer. “I think we’ve lost the idea of teaching students to volunteer. This was learning beyond the walls of a classroom.”

“I think there are many [seniors] out there who could use this help who weren’t tuned in,” said Palmer. “I hope they do it again. I would sign up if I had a project of this magnitude.”

Student volunteers were rewarded for their efforts with a lunch at Pizza Ranch, but they all said the biggest highlight of their day was the work itself.

“It was so fun,” said Molly Wooten with a smile.

“I wouldn’t mind doing it every two weeks,” said Joe Castillo.

Other groups of students were already clamoring to repeat their project for next year, said Stoll.

“We did have to cancel two projects because they just didn’t have any leaves down yet,” said Stoll. “But really, nothing went wrong. We know so much more now, for next time.”

“This was a great event to get community projects, which require a lot of hands, done,” said Kelcey Klemm, Perham’s city manager. “Eventually, we had 35-40 kids staining fence after they finished other projects.”

Klemm said he is “looking forward to next year. We’ve got projects for them.”

In future years, the Day of Caring might be held in October or the spring.

“I’d give this year like … 10 thumbs up,” said Stoll.

Elizabeth Huwe/FOCUS