Three separate donation drives have been put in place by Lakeville Area Public Schools high school students to help those affected by catastrophic hurricanes Harvey in southeast Texas and Irma in Florida and the Caribbean.
Lakeville North and South high school students from Minnesota Center for Advanced Professional Studies (MNCAPS) and Lakeville South’s Qbitz robotics team have been diligently working to garner donations to offer relief to victims of Harvey and Irma.
Help comes first
“A large focus of robotics and the STEM program is giving back to our community and helping others,” said Grace Kosieradzki, Qbitz team member. “Knowing school was about to start, it dawned on our team that the flood waters and devastation must have destroyed the classroom supplies the kids need for their education. We decided to try to do something to help the problem.”
Qbitz was connected with Trial Lawyers Care, a nonprofit organization with which mentor Art Kosieradzki (Grace’s father) is affiliated. Grace said they decided to partner with Trial Lawyers Care after learning the organization had experience successfully running a school supply drive and had started their own initiative for Harvey victims.
“We decided to rally our contacts, including the FIRST community, and they would utilize their contacts to collect as many supplies as possible,” Grace said.
The group created an Amazon online Wish List of basic items to make it as easy as possible for those wanting to donate. Everything from pens and paper to backpacks and notebooks are needed. Participants can select whatever they would like to donate and then the items will be sent directly to Texas to be sorted and delivered to those in need by a team of volunteers. Grace and the rest of her Qbitz teammates, as well as Art and coach and LSHS STEM teacher Dan Rawley, have been promoting the supply drive ever since.
“It makes me feel really good that I’m able to make a difference despite being so far away,” Grace said. “It makes me feel hopeful seeing that everyone can make a difference and all the willingness there is to help out others.”
Art said he is inspired by the tenacity of the group.
“This group of kids is amazing. They are 15-years-olds, and what they’re working to accomplish is impressive,” Art said. “They worked with others in Houston to make sure the list contains exactly what is needed and have a shipping site pre-populated and a group of volunteers in Houston ready to receive, sort and distribute. It’s incredible.”
MNCAPS students join friendly competition for Harvey and Irma victims
MNCAPS students, which includes juniors and seniors from Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Prior Lake-Savage high schools, are taking part in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most money for people affected by both Harvey and Irma. The morning set of classes, which is made up Healthcare Pathway 1 and Business Pathway 2, are competing against the afternoon classes, which consists of Business Pathway 1 and Healthcare Pathway 2.
The morning classes are raising money through an everydayhero website, which operates much like GoFundMe except that 100 percent of the donations will
be given to the Houston Food Bank — a charity the team chose to support for this project.
“We chose the Houston Food Bank because they work with all populations and will tell us exactly where the money is going, such as the hospitals and shelters. We will know who we helped and where we helped,” said Amanda Able, a MNCAPS and Lakeville North senior.
The afternoon MNCAPS students decided to help those impacted by Hurricane Irma, since, at the time, it was about to barrel through Florida.
“We thought, why don’t we step in front of everything and focus on Hurricane Irma victims,” said Drake Olson, a MNCAPS and Lakeville North senior. “We saw the writing on the wall and thought we’d be proactive.”
The team decided to sell blue rubber bracelets with the phrase “I fought Irma” on them to students and staff from all three high schools. People must donate a minimum of $5 and there is no maximum. The money will be wired digitally to Direct Relief for Hurricane Irma. Direct Relief staff deliver critical medicine and supplies to the health system as well as respond to other needs across the state as responders enter the recovery phase.
The two teams may be supporting different hurricane regions, but their thoughts on why they’re helping all center around making a difference in other people’s lives that they don’t know.
“It makes me feel triumphant. We know that this money is going to something that won’t only change someone’s life, but people will have stories about it for years to come,” said Ashton Abraham, a MNCAPS and Lakeville South senior. “They are able to say ‘I was strong enough,’ and we are putting that strength in their hands. It’s a great feeling.”
“It feels patriotic in a way … helping members of your own country and having the ability to give money back to your own country,” said Alex Muma, a MNCAPS and Lakeville North senior.
Olson felt empowered by making real change in the world.
“It’s self empowering. We can affect change in the real world and we can get people to follow us and try to make a positive difference,” Olson said. “I just found it eye-opening that we could actually do something like this, a fundraiser that is affecting so many lives. I never thought I’d be able to make this big of difference at this point in my life, and now that I know that I can do it and have done it, I have a new perspective on my life and the world.”
And, although the reward of helping others during a devastating time in their lives is the real bonus, the winning team will win a fall party. The students will earn either a doughnut party if the two teams combined reach $1,000 in donations or they’ll get doughnuts and one casual dress Friday a month if they collect over $2,000 combined.
Donate by Friday, Sept. 22
To help Qbitz’s school supply drive, visit their website to make a donation.
To purchase a bracelet to help with Hurricane Irma victims, email firstname.lastname@example.org.