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Superior's Cathedral School students give back

Donations are being collected through Jan. 28 for people affected by tornadoes in Kentucky.

Fifth grader Addison Beck, left, and Amber Nielsen talk about items they pull out from a box of donations at Cathedral School
Fifth grader Addison Beck, left, and Amber Nielsen talk about items they pull out from a box of donations at Cathedral School in Superior on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, as Nielsen’s class organizes donations that will go to people affected by tornadoes in Kentucky.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram
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Donations, volunteers and a class of fifth graders from Superior's Cathedral School are gathering a truckload-sized care package for people affected by tornadoes that swept through Kentucky in December.

A room at the school dedicated to the effort was filled with activity Wednesday, Jan. 19. Students sorted through donations from the community, folded clothes and filled boxes with items.

The scene is familiar to fifth-grade teacher Amber Nielsen. She spearheaded a similar effort in the fall of 2017 to aid victims of Hurricane Harvey in Puerto Rico. Those students are now freshmen in high school.

This year’s fifth-graders are enthusiastic about the project, and the teacher is excited about the work they’re doing.

“The impact that the kids have from doing something for other people, to me it’s more important than anything they can learn in books,” she said.

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The class of 19 students watched videos about the destruction, learned about tornadoes and brainstormed ideas for a list of needed items. Students and their families have donated clothing, hygiene supplies and diapers. Giving to others, they have found, is its own reward.

Fifth graders Frank Robbins, left, and Julia Shamla fold donated clothes at Cathedral School
Fifth graders Frank Robbins, left, and Julia Shamla fold donated clothes at Cathedral School in Superior on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, that will go to people affected by tornadoes in Kentucky.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“When you first donate something, you want to keep giving. It’s like a tingling sensation that you want to donate more because it’s good for the world,” said fifth grader Prya Nicoletti.

Items are also being accepted from the community through Jan. 28. The students said they have been surprised by the flood of items.

Cooper Lawrey checks the size of a shirt that he folded
Cooper Lawrey checks the size of a shirt that he folded while organizing donations in Amber Nielsen’s fifth grade class at Cathedral School in Superior on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022. The donations will go to people affected by tornadoes in Kentucky.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

“A lot of people just like to help other people,” said Maxwell Sorenson. “That’s pretty good, because with all the chaos in the world, we need …"

“We need people to get along,” said John Neylon.

They are grateful for the donations.

“I think it’s a really generous thing. I think it’s going to be good. It's going to help a lot of people,” said William Hubbard.

The students each had stories to tell about the people who lost homes, belongings and loved ones in the tornadoes.

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"A week ago we were showed a video of a person that brought out their grill and was cooking food for people, fresh food," Hubbard said.

"We need more people like that," Neylon said.

Nicoletti put the destruction in local terms. One tornado cut a swath of destruction as long as a trip to the Twin Cities and halfway back, she said.

Fifth grader Addison Beck pulls out socks from a box of donations
Fifth grader Addison Beck pulls out socks from a box of donations at Cathedral School in Superior on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022, as Amber Nielsen’s class organizes donations that will go to people affected by tornadoes in Kentucky.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

The class has been keeping track of the situation in the area that the donations are heading to, a spot about 40 miles from Mayfield, Kentucky. Children in the affected area have to attend school outdoors in the weather, the students said, which is why coats, boots and other outerwear is so important.

“Right after the tornado they got slammed with storms and rain, torrential rain, and now they've had snow. So the kids are like, ‘wait, it’s down south,’ and I said ‘Yeah, but it still gets cold down south,’” Nielsen said.

Halvor Lines has volunteered to deliver the items to Gilbertsville, Kentucky. Gilbertsville is about a 40-minute drive from Mayfield, which was one of the areas hardest hit by the tornadoes. The Superior-based trucking company also transported items collected for Hurricane Harvey victims in 2017.

Going back and forth between their classroom and a truck waiting outside Cathedral School in Superior, students in Amber Nielsen's class loaded 78 boxes destined for Puerto Rican hurricane victims into the truck on Friday afternoon. "Good job, kids.

“I contacted Charmaine (Holz with Halvor Lines) right away and she’s like ‘Yep, we’re on it.’ The CEO at Halvor Lines is all about student service learning,” Nielsen said.

After the items are delivered, the students will be able to talk with the people who receive and distribute their donations.

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“That completes the project,” Nielsen said. “Otherwise, it’s collect, pack, send and you don’t know the impact that it makes. And it’s important for the kids to have that full circle.”

Donations are being collected through Jan. 28. They can be dropped off at Cathedral School, 1419 Baxter Ave., during school hours. Tables have been set up in the entryway for items. Donations are also being collected during Mass at Cathedral of Christ the King — Wednesday at 8:30 a.m. and Sunday at 7:30 and 10:30 a.m.

The most needed items are AA and D batteries and coats. Other items being collected include fall and winter clothing of all sizes, particularly for young children, hygiene items, cleaning products, diapers, wipes, stuffed animals and shoes.

Amber Nielsen points out where she wants a shirt to go to fifth grader Frank Robbins at Cathedral School
Amber Nielsen points out where she wants a shirt to go to fifth grader Frank Robbins at Cathedral School in Superior on Wednesday, Jan. 19, 2022.
Jed Carlson / Superior Telegram

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