Rock Ridge students organize Iron Range winter clothing drive

Editor’s note: The winter coat drive is, in part, being run by our daughter. But what good is having parents who run a website if they can’t help you build the interview and marketing skills, and to help boost your community-focused project? Exactly.

Jerry Burnes/Iron Range Today

VIRGINIA — Iron Range winters can bring a harsh, bitter cold along with them. Not a big surprise to residents of the area, but a group of students at Rock Ridge High School noticed not everyone in the area is ready — or can be — for the yearly elements.

So they decided to do something about it.

Savanna Burnes, Kendall Collie, Ava Dodge and Daunte Gooden have organized a winter apparel around Virginia next week, with three drop-off locations and two community centers set to receive the collected winter gear. The drive came about as part of the Leos Club at the school, which asks participating students to do a community-focused project.

People can drop off winter apparel — hats, gloves, jackets, boots and more — at Virginia High School, the Virginia Community Foundation or Ken Waschke Auto Plaza (both locations) from Jan. 23-27, with donations going to The Salvation Army and Bill’s House in Virginia. Items can be gently used and for all ages.

“We want to help different organizations that help people so we can ensure everyone can feel comfortable this winter,” Gooden said.

There will also be collection boxes for check and cash donations to go toward new winter gear.

“We wanted to do something that could really benefit those in need in our community,” Burnes said. “The people that need these items will benefit, but I also believe the people that donated will benefit, because by doing something nice, it makes you feel nice.”

She said the apparel drive experience has been a good one all around by teaching their team leadership skills they will need later in life. They also hope the drive will “open the eyes of the other people in the community” and let them know there are people who can’t get what they need at all times.

“Perspective is the experience of a lifetime,” Gooden said. “Understanding and getting a personal view of the diverse amount of struggling people around our towns sets us off with an understanding of gratitude — to have a slight understanding of being in someone else’s shoes.”

Burnes added that she hopes the goals of the Leos Club and the service projects can help bridge the gaps of the older and younger generations on the Iron Range by helping them work toward a common goal of solving the community’s problems.

“I think that the older generations just need to be a little bit more open to change,” she said. “And I believe the younger generations can just be nicer to each other. Everyone is just so invested in social media that they almost forget about the real work and the problems in our community. I believe that we should all come together to solve them.”

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