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Rollin' up their sleeves

Stephen Thomas and Ryan Anderson are all smiles as they grab their hotdogs and burgers at Tapley Park. Dana Pavek/WDC Schools.1 / 6
Jordan Brink rakes leaves while Alex Burckhard and Sheri Holst clean out a flower bed at Ruth Miller's home in Wadena. Dana Pavek/WDC Schools.2 / 6
WDC's Norm Gallant, left, and Supt. Lee Westrum grill hotdogs and burgers for students and staff at Tapley Park. Day of Caring crews were treated to lunch after completing their volunteering. Dana Pavek/WDC Schools.3 / 6
These National Honor Society seniors -- Sarah Moen, Kayla Peters, Gabi Ross, McKayla Woods and Taylor Dirks -- put a ton of time and preparation into the planning and coordinating of the 9th annual Day of the Caring. Dana Pavek/WDC Schools.4 / 6
WDC senior Ashley Lehmkuhl visits with Mike Safratowich about his yard and what needs to be done for Day of Caring. Dana Pavek/WDC Schools.5 / 6
This crew cleaned up leaves and flower beds for Florence Voge in Deer Creek, from left: Beau Breuer, Ashley Peterson, Lila Lohmiler, Andreena Johnson-Hall, Lindsay Frisch, Rae Ann Sutherland and Nick Jones. Dana Pavek/WDC Schools.6 / 6

When the Wadena-Deer Creek High School's Day of Caring crew arrived and began raking and cleaning out flower beds at Ruth Miller's Wadena home, she couldn't stop smiling.

"Oh, this helps me out a lot. It's worth so much to me. Sometimes, you just can't do it at my age," said Miller, who just turned 79 years young. This is her third year of requesting WDC students clean up her yard, and she says it's such a wonderful service the school provides to residents like herself.

The 9th annual Day of Caring was held May 3 with 265 students and 21 staff volunteering at 102 homes to rake leaves, clean out flower beds, wash windows and more in Wadena, Deer Creek and Bluffton. That's 1,430 volunteer hours!

National Honor Society (NHS) advisor Dawn Hamelau, who spearheads the project, was thrilled to provide this service opportunity. It was a hectic, busy day, but one with rich rewards.

"Our kids worked very hard throughout the day and enjoyed meeting people in our communities. It's grown into an event that residents look forward to and we do too," said Hamelau.

This year's NHS student coordinators were Taylor Dirks, Sarah Moen, Kayla Peters, Gabi Ross and McKayla Woods, who handled the details of organizing the community job requests, assigning crews and assembling rakes, window cleaner and other supplies.

WDC sophomore Nick Soroko said he likes being outdoors and helping people.

"This is my second year of helping with Day of Caring and I really enjoy it. I like meeting the people too," he said.

Mike Safratowich, 88, is another Wadena resident who greatly appreciates the help from Day of Caring students. He also enjoys visiting with the kids.

"I've had kids coming about three, four years now and I really appreciate it. It would take me a whole week to do what they can do in a couple of hours," said Safratowich.