Coon Rapids Cardettes give back

Thirty-one members of the Coon Rapids High School Cardettes dance team gave back to the community Aug. 6.

Four Cardettes danceline members packaging at Feed My Starving Children were, left to right: Sydney Sturm, Lexi Plessel, Sophie Carpenter and Sam McNamer. Plessel and Carpenter are captains of the fall Cardettes.
Four Cardettes danceline members packaging at Feed My Starving Children were, left to right: Sydney Sturm, Lexi Plessel, Sophie Carpenter and Sam McNamer. Plessel and Carpenter are captains of the fall Cardettes.

They worked a two-hour shift at the Coon Rapids headquarters of the Christian non-profit organization, Feed My Starving Children, packing food that was to be sent to feed the hungry in Haiti.

“They are an awesome group of dancers who want to give back to the community as well as help others,” said GayLynn McNamer, Cardettes Booster co-president.

The fall Cardettes, who were chosen after try-outs at the school last spring, recently returned from the Just for Kix danceline camp in Brainerd in last July.

“They are ready for a great season,” McNamer said.

That starts Thursday, Aug. 30 when the Cardettes will be performing at the opening game of the Coon Rapids High School football season at which the Cardinals host Totino-Grace High School.

But in addition to performing their dance routines at Cardinal sports events, the Cardettes will also be doing community service projects this fall.

They will be collecting food for the high school food shelf and welcoming back the teachers with treats for lunch, according to McNamer.

As well, the Cardettes will be putting on a dance clinic for elementary and middle school-age girls in the community this fall.

But Aug. 6, 31 Cardettes led by captains Lexi Plessel and Sophie Carpenter spent an afternoon at Feed My Starving Children working with other volunteers to help feed the hungry in Haiti.

Haiti is one of 70 countries around the world to which Feed My Starving Child provides food.

The food is free, but the agencies and organizations in those countries pay for the shipping costs, according to Nancy Dierdorf, senior team leader at Feed My Starving Children in Coon Rapids.

Volunteers and other donors, including churches, corporations, nonprofit organizations and community service clubs, pay 100 percent of the cost of the FMSC meals, Dierdorf said.

“Seventy percent of donations come from people who volunteer,” she said.

FMSC receives no money from government agencies and 93 percent of the dollars it receives goes to the food program; 7 percent to administration and marketing, Dierdorf said.

At the Coon Rapids facility, FMSC runs five food packaging shifts a day Monday through Saturday.

But it also has two other locations in Minnesota, two in Chicago, Ill., where it is planning to open a third site, plus one in Tempe, Ariz., as well as mobile packaging units that travel the country, according to Dierdorf.

“One of the food packages will feed six children at a cost of 22 cents per meal,” Dierdorf said.

“In the last 25 years since 1987, Feed My Starving Children has served more than 600 million meals.”

The meals, which comprise chicken powder, dried vegetables, soy protein and rice are well balanced and nutritious, Dierdorf said.

“You are making a huge, huge difference in people’s lives,” she told the Cardettes.

Volunteers not only pack the food, they also label the product and work in the warehouse carrying the ingredients back and forth, Dierdorf said.

There are eight food packing work stations at the Coon Rapids FMSC facility with 11 volunteers manning each station.

And once their shift was over, the Cardettes cleaned up the work stations ready for the next shift and got to taste test the food.

Cardettes who worked at Feed My Starving Children were Emily Carlson, Ruby Carlson, Sophie Carpenter, Rachel Chavis, Brandy Connell, Neena Demaio, Bailey Ekberg, Courtney Fennell, Maddie Hagen, Heather Kane, Courtney Koch, Lauren Koch, Marissa Krantz, Lauren Kriebel, Morgan Larrabee, Jolie Larson, Samantha Marcotte, Tina McManus, Samantha McNamer, Katee Meindl, Jessica Mercier, Maresa Moulzolf, Kaylee Musolf, Kiana Pierson, Lexi Plessel, Paige Schmidtbauer, Kate Socha, Paige Steinberg, Arielle Sturm, Sydney Sturm and Emilie Wieland.

“It really is a great and simple way for teens to give back to others,” McNamer said.

Tryouts take place in the fall for the winter Cardettes, which will perform during the high school’s winter sports season as well as compete in danceline competitions, according to McNamer.

Many of the girls on the fall danceline will be members of the winter Cardettes, but not all, McNamer said.

Cardettes coaches are Megan Stokke and Molly Bott.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]