Pay it Forward project back for a 6th year

Categories: Around the Diocese

February 28, 2014, edition
By Nikki Rajala

In The Visitor’s sixth annual Pay it Forward initiative, three schools and two groups of adults will share their earnings with local and worldwide charities.

To further boost Pay it Forward, three generous donors offered their funds, paying it forward when the announcement was first published in January. All three had donated in previous years as a personal stewardship tradition and wished to remain anonymous.

Coins for clean water

Students at St. Mary of Mount Carmel School, Long Prairie, will collect funds for the Clean Water program of Catholic Relief Services.

“We’ve purchased a bottle of water for each student,” Barb Sandberg, fourth grade teacher, said. “The empty bottles become containers to collect coins. They’ll be labeled with the students’ names and the cause — ‘Coins for Clean Water.’

“Following Wednesday Masses, each class will empty their bottles into a large pickle jar marked with challenge levels. When the coins reach a certain level, students will earn rewards, like a hat day or extra recess.”

There are also weekly family challenges — like adding pennies when they use their dishwasher less often, or quarters for limiting small laundry loads. Throughout Lent, the school will discuss global needs for clean water and water conservation.

Cash donations may be sent to St. Mary of Mount Carmel School at 425 Central Ave., Long Prairie, MN 56347.

Notecards support Eagle’s Healing Nest

At Holy Family School in Sauk Centre, students will create all-occasion cards to support the Eagle’s Healing Nest in Sauk Centre, a facility which helps to heal the invisible wounds of war of veterans and service members, and works to reintegrate them into the civilian world and their families.

“All students will create cheery computer drawings, like you’d make for your grandma,” said computer teacher Ginny Thomas. “Then we’ll choose eight designs — one per grade and one overall winner. With our seed money, they’ll be printed into notecards at Main Street Press in Sauk Centre, and made into sets, four to a package with envelopes, to sell at $5 each.”

To purchase cards or send donations, send checks before March 30 to Holy Family School, 231 Sinclair Lewis Ave., Sauk Centre, MN 56378.

Helping ex-offenders

Pat Bednarz, a member of St. Mary’s Cathedral Parish in St. Cloud, and others have organized a

project to assist ex-offenders, using Central Minnesota Re-Entry Project.

“Seed money will be used to buy 100 cloth reusable bags,” he said. “Inside each will be a wish list of items that help ex-offenders re-enter society, with a line to estimate the amount spent. Bags will be distributed to anyone who wishes.

“Among the items on the wish list are 10-ride bus passes, hygiene items and healthy energy bars; larger items include clothing, furniture for an apartment, a bus ticket or direct assistance.”

In the tri-county area, Bedanrz said, last year about 250 people returned from prison and another 500 from county jails. About 10 percent are women.

“They return to the county of their conviction to serve supervision time,” he said. “The main obstacle they face is finding housing — landlords may refuse to rent to people with a felony background. Many are homeless.”

CMNRP hopes to help ex-offenders succeed in getting a job and securing shelter, Bednarz said. He works closely with the supervising agents to know each person’s needs.

To receive a bag and list, call 320-656- 9004. Bags may be also picked up at CMNRP at 22 Wilson Ave. NE, Suite 15, St. Cloud, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

Checks may be written to Central Minnesota Re-Entry Project or CMNRP and mailed to P.O. Box 6064, St. Cloud, MN 56302.

Baskets, bags and blankets

St. Katharine Drexel School in St. Cloud will purchase laundry baskets and bags, principal Erin Hatlestad said.

“During Lent, we ask our students to go without something or to do special chores,” she said “With the money saved, we’re asking them to purchase items for their classroom containers.”

Younger students will collect items for the “Sweet Dreams” program of Anna Marie’s Alliance, a shelter for women and families in St. Cloud, Hatlestad said. Older students will provide welcome bags for the Youth Homeless Shelter through Catholic Charities. The staff will tie blankets for the Youth Homeless Shelter.

To assist, write checks to St. Katharine Drexel School, and send to the school at 428 2nd St. SE, St. Cloud, MN 56304.

Supporting soldiers overseas

An Operation Minnesota Nice chapter, connected to the Mary and Scott Sehnert Chapter of the Sauk Rapids VFW and the local Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter will assist soldiers overseas as a Pay it Forward project. Members have already adopted soldiers, sending them monthly packages.

Through OMN, a nonprofit, the group is also teaming with The Pantry to supply other items. The Pantry, located in Camp Spann, Afghanistan, and managed by retired Army sergeant and active volunteer Dan Wilson, distributes donated items to the 1,500 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines for the frequently depleted PX.

“Our project provides a pillowcase and a list of commonly requested or needed items by overseas troops,” said Angie Loecken, project organizer, DAR regent and OMN member. “Not only are the pillowcases convenient packages for the donated items — they’re also used as laundry bags or bed covers, because sheets are often in short supply.”

While the two most requested items are beef jerky and wet wipes, the complete list — snacks, toiletries, entertainment and miscellaneous items — is also posted online at www.operationminnesota and below .

To receive a pillowcase and list, call Loecken at 320-258-7616 or 320-0260- 6433.

A drop box for donations will be at the Pastoral Center, 305 N 7th Ave, St. Cloud, until April 4. Monetary donations to help with shipping costs are also accepted.

Supporting Soldiers List

Operation MN Nice

Beef Jerky  (#1 request)
Spam with pop-top lids
Corn Nuts
Natural Valley Granola Bars or Energy Bars
Easy Mac
Beef stew or chunky soups with pop-top lids
Starbucks instant coffee packets
Crystal Light-type single-packet drink mix ins
Peanut nutter (singles) or Nutella
Peanut M&M’s (only peanut)
Carnation Instant Breakfast
Dried fruit or fruit leather
Sunflower seeds in the shell
Coffee creamer packets
Individual snack package
Nuts or trail Mix (no chocolate)
Single box cereals or instant oatmeal (prefer Better Oats Brand)
Jelly, jam or honey packets
Gum or breath Mints

Baby wipes or wet wipes (# 1 request)
Gel deodorant (gel only May – October)
Burt’s Bees lip balm (only brand that doesn’t melt)
Non-aerosol bug spray/sunscreen
Thick-soled flip-flops for showering
Throat lozenges
Powder Wisp toothbrushes
Small bottles of mouthwash
Disposable razors
Liquid body wash
Shoe insole cushions
Fingernail clippers
“Cushy” toilet paper

Magazines (in good taste)
DVDs (gently-used are fine)
Hand-held games
Games like UNO, Phase 10, etc.
Vacation destination pamphlets & brochures
Batteries in packs of 4 or less
Small sporting items
Water toys (squirt guns, wading pools, etc.)

Hand written notes or children’s artwork
Black athletic socks (No low cuff)
Boxes of ziplock bags – all sizes (Keeps the sand out of their stuff)

Used items (except DVDs and magazines)
Toothpaste or dental floss
Hard candy
Bars of soap