A Coon Rapids VFW Ladies Auxiliary member has donated more than 100 items of children’s clothing to the Anoka County Head Start Center in Coon Rapids.
Joined by other members of the auxiliary, Heather VanBellinger dropped off the clothes at the Head Start center July 31.
VanBellinger and her husband John, who live in Prior Lake, have four young children – Sienna Rose, 6 1/2, and three-year-old triplets Ily Duerr, Taurin John and Arabella Amore.
A 1988 graduate of Coon Rapids High School, VanBellinger earned a teaching degree with a coaching minor from University of Wisconsin-Stout.
She has been an art teacher at Farmington High School for 19 years, with three and a half years off when she was raising her children, VanBellinger said.
VanBellinger also coached gymnastics at the school when it had the program and now coaches at IGM Gymnastics in Burnsville.
According to VanBellinger, she had a great deal of help through a difficult situation from people when she had the triplets, who were born prematurely.
“Now it’s time for me to give back and help out,” VanBellinger said.
VanBellinger is eligible for membership in the VFW Ladies Auxiliary through her late grandfather, Leonard Duerr from North Dakota, who served in the U.S. Army during World War II, according to her mother Mary Kaye Kath, a past president of the Coon Rapids VFW Ladies Auxiliary.
“Heather has been very active with the auxiliary in helping with face painting at various gatherings as well as having made past clothing donations,” Kath said.
“Heather is very glad to be able to help out in this fashion.”
Sarah Young, family service staff member at the Anoka County Head Start Center, was delighted by the donation.
“We always welcome donations of children’s clothes and shoes to help our families who are unable to afford them through lack of funds,” she said.
There are 600 children in the Anoka-Washington County Head Start program at the Coon Rapids and other locations, Young said.
According to Kath, the auxiliary has a mitten tree project at Christmas where hats, scarves and mittens are collected and donated to the Head Start center.
Park River Estates Care Center staff and residents help the auxiliary with the mitten tree project, Kath said.
The Head Start program is operated by the Anoka County Community Action Program.
According to its website, Head Start is a multi-faceted child and family development program for income-eligible households in Anoka and Washington counties.
The program is designed to help pregnant women and children, aged birth to five, and their families achieve their full potential, the website states.
Peter Bodley is at