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Park Rapids Enterprise mitten tree is at Century School

Donated hats, gloves, mittens and other winter clothing will get to children in need.

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Students from the Century Adventures after-school program who helped make paper mittens to decorate the Enterprise Mitten Tree in the Century School office included, front row from left, Cambria Vagts, Ellie Grubb; back row, Brooklyn Parks, Claire Walters and Avery Hoffman. Donations of winter gloves, mittens and hats will be accepted at Century Nov. 29 through Dec. 22. Contributed / Century School.

With the new Park Rapids Enterprise office at Bruhn Plaza still in the remodeling process, this year’s mitten tree has been set up at the Century School.

The Salvage Depot donated the tree and Helping Hands coordinator Rhonda Lageson will be making sure donated hats, gloves, mittens and other winter clothing will get to children in need.

The Enterprise started the mitten tree project in 2017 to help supply warm winter gear to Head Start, elementary and middle school students by collecting these items in a tree in the lobby of the newspaper office. By having the mitten tree at the school, Lageson said it will make it even easier to make sure children get the items when the need arises.

“I’m so thankful for people who gave mittens, hats and gloves to the mitten tree in past years,” she said. “It’s been really great.”

Lageson said donations to the mitten tree project are a welcome addition to the Helping Hands project she started about 10 years ago to make sure students have everything they need to succeed in and out of the classroom.

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Lageson is a former teacher and PTA president. She often saw students coming to school without basic school supplies or adequate winter clothing.

“I saw lots of kids who needed help – kids going out to recess in the cold without hats or mittens,” she said. “Having these extra mittens, gloves and hats donated to the mitten tree again this year will be really wonderful.”

She said waterproof gloves and mittens that keep hands warm and dry when students play in the snow are especially needed.

Lageson helped 20 kids get outfitted in winter gear just in the first half of November with items that were donated or gifted through the school’s Helping Hands program. “They get a coat, snow pants, boots, mittens and hats,” she said. “They’re so appreciative.”

Kids being kids, hats, gloves and mittens are sometimes lost or forgotten at home and need to be replaced when recess time comes around.

Mittens, gloves and hats are kept in each classroom pod in the elementary and in accessible locations for middle school students, who Lageson said are often more hesitant to admit they need them.

Donations for the mitten tree project are being accepted at a box in the main Century School office from 8 to 8:30 a.m. and 3-4 p.m. Monday through Friday, starting Monday, Nov. 29.

Visa gift cards or checks to purchase gloves, mittens and hats are also welcome. Send to Century School, Attention PTA, 501 Helten Avenue, Park Rapids, MN, 56470 and specify that the donation is for the mitten tree project.

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If bringing donations for the mitten tree at other times, buzz the office at the main door. Donations may also be sent to school with any Century student.

The mitten drive will continue through Dec 22. Smaller-sized items will be distributed to Head Start and Early Head Start students.

Lorie Skarpness has lived in the Park Rapids area since 1997 and has been writing for the Park Rapids Enterprise since 2017. She enjoys writing features about the people and wildlife who call the north woods home.
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