Maple Grove students more focused on giving rather than receiving

Meet some of Maple Grove’s holiday heroes who are more focused on giving than receiving this holiday season. Over 30 children participating in SPARK! (Serving People with Acts of Random Kindness), a local youth volunteering organization, have taken the initiative to hold a toy and food drive in collaboration with two local elementary schools.

Members of SPARK! (Serving People with Acts of Random Kindness), a local youth volunteering organization, show off the decorated collection bags and boxes for a recent donation drive. These elementary students collected over 2,277 pounds of non-perishable food items, 782 toys and $1,850 in cash donations.

Members of SPARK! (Serving People with Acts of Random Kindness), a local youth volunteering organization, show off the decorated collection bags and boxes for a recent donation drive. These elementary students collected over 2,277 pounds of non-perishable food items, 782 toys and $1,850 in cash donations.

The SPARK! kids have rallied the generosity of students at Rush Creek Elementary, St. John’s Lutheran School and Three Bridge, a Minneapolis-based business, to bring in donations of food and toys to support the CROSS Food Shelf efforts. CROSS serves over 500 families in need within the Maple Grove, Osseo, Corcoran, Rogers, Dayton and west Champlin communities.

All these elementary students working together, along with the contributions from Three Bridge, made this project a success. The effort generated over 2,277 pounds of non-perishable food items, 782 toys and $1,850 in cash donations.

SPARK! members create posters for the group’s food, toy and donation drive.

SPARK! members create posters for the group’s food, toy and donation drive.

“We are amazed at how much food we collected and the number of toys we received,” said Mikalie Sides, a sixth-grade student at Rush Creek Elementary and a founding member of SPARK! “It feels good to see all of the kids at our school get involved and offer their help.”

Rush Creek Elementary Principal Don Johnson said, “I just can’t say enough positive things about the generosity of the students at Rush Creek Elementary. These students always rise to the challenge and their thoughtfulness will bring smiles to so many people this holiday season.”

Julie Zemke, director of ESP at St. John’s Lutheran School added, “Seeing the kids get so energized about helping families in need reinforces the true meaning of Christmas and brings a strong reminder of the special holiday magic that kids are capable of creating.”

The SPARK! kids volunteer program is just getting started. Prior to organizing the toy and food drive effort in collaboration with the Rush Creek Student Council, the SPARK! kids initiated a coat drive in support of the Salvation Army’s Coats for Kids program. Recognizing that every child deserves to feel the warmth and confidence of wearing a nice winter coat, the SPARK! kids jumped into action and generated 114 coat donations.

Students, part of SPARK! collect donation items at Rush Creek Elementary School.

Students, part of SPARK! collect donation items at Rush Creek Elementary School.

The group began as a way to get a family involved in volunteering.

SPARK! is focused on serving needs within the community by adapting volunteer opportunities to the strengths and capabilities of school-age children. At SPARK!, the program knows that kids are an important volunteering resource and can make a powerful difference in our community. The SPARK! kids have taken the responsibility to plan and execute volunteering efforts.

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