Mississippi students make birthday bags, receive encouragement from Matt Blair

A schoolwide birthday party of sorts was celebrated at Mississippi Elementary School last week.

 Former Minnesota Viking Matt Blair signs a jersey for Mya Briese (front right). Briese brought the shirt to be autographed for her one-year-old brother.

Former Minnesota Viking Matt Blair signs a jersey for Mya Briese (front right). Briese brought the shirt to be autographed for her one-year-old brother.

With the gym decked out in streamers and balloons, the Coon Rapids school’s students decorated and filled birthday bags to be donated to area food shelves and homeless shelters.

Their efforts were rewarded with a visit from former Minnesota Viking Matt Blair, who shared a message of the importance of giving back with the students.

“You’re doing something special for people in need,” Blair told third-graders in the school’s media center prior to their assembling birthday bags.

Blair encouraged the students to listen to their parents and the other adults in their lives.

“Do what they tell you and you will be better in life as you grow,” Blair said.

Blair, who played for the Vikings from 1974 to 1985, shared photos from his January trip to Haiti with the students and encouraged them to help someone every day.

“Have a game plan, follow your dreams and never give up,” he said.

Blair also took time to autograph student-supplied items like footballs and shirts as well as passing out autographed items provided by Blair himself.

The experience of meeting Blair was described as “awesome” by third-grader Christian Larson.

Larson was also excited about helping others by making birthday bags.

“It’s cool,” he said. “I feel good about it.”

Kelly Johnson is at kelly.johnson@ecm-inc.com


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