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Perham to hold its first Day of Caring

Perham High School students will be volunteering around town next Wednesday, Sept. 18, for the city’s first-ever Day of Caring.

Organized by the United Way of Otter Tail County, the Day of Caring is a way for students to contribute and give back to others in their community.

Christi Stoll, the volunteer and events coordinator for the local United Way, said at least 50 PHS students will be tackling a dozen projects.

Volunteer groups will assist seniors and other homebound persons with outdoor projects such as cleaning out flowerbeds, raking leaves and washing exterior windows.

These tasks probably sound easy enough to the younger crowd; but to the seniors who applied for the help, it’s not as simple.

“One lady called me. She’s 82 years old and she said, ‘I just can’t bend down anymore to cut my day lilies off,’” said Stoll. “Sometimes, physically, the seniors just can’t do it anymore, but for a young person… it takes half the time, and they have the energy to spare.”

There are also plans to do some projects around the city, but those will depend on whether enough volunteers sign up.

Juniors and seniors from PHS will make up the majority of the crew, with adult supervisors for each team.

Stoll admitted the event’s timing has been somewhat inconvenient. Spreading information to the students hasn’t been easy since school just started, she said, but “it’s a great time of year to be doing these projects.”

Lizzie Fudge, the student body president at PHS, has played a major part in promoting the Day of Caring.

 “She’s been a big help to me,” said Stoll.

During the first week of classes, Fudge spoke at an assembly to encourage her classmates to register as helpers.

“Day of Caring is an awesome idea, because it brings the students and community together,” wrote Fudge in an email to the Focus. “Serving others not only gives you a feeling that you are doing something significant, but it makes an impact on the person you are helping.”

 “I am really excited to see the student body help the Perham community,” she continued, “and hopefully the students see how important community service is to themselves and to others, and not only serve again but make it a lifestyle.”

This year’s event will be a first for Perham, but the Day of Caring does have some history in the region. High school students from Frazee, Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids have previously gone out to help in their areas.

“Detroit Lakes does a huge Day of Caring with their whole, entire high school,” said Stoll. “We’re hoping that we’ll be able to do it every year and that it will grow. Ultimately, the goal would be to be like Detroit Lakes, where the entire high school, as well as all the teachers, go out in the community and do this humongous Day of Caring.”

Get involved

While the deadline to register as a volunteer and receive a free T-shirt passed on Sept. 9, those who are interested can still sign up through the United Way office. However, they will not receive an event T-shirt.

Community members may also contribute to the Day of Caring by donating or lending window washing supplies and rakes.

Supplies may be dropped off at the United Way’s office, inside the former hospital building on 3rd Street S.W.

Elizabeth Huwe