Sand Creek students warm community with blankets

Staff Writer
Since 2013, I have primarily covered the Anoka-Hennepin and Spring Lake Park school districts as well as the city of Spring Lake Park for ABC Newspapers.

Sand Creek Elementary School students made more than 130 fleece tie blankets Dec. 22 to donate to three community organizations.

Fourth-graders, pictured, and all other Sand Creek Elementary School students made more than 130 fleece tie blankets Dec. 22. Photo submitted
Fourth-graders, pictured, and all other Sand Creek Elementary School students made more than 130 fleece tie blankets Dec. 22. Photo submitted

At an assembly Dec. 22, representatives from the Anoka-Hennepin School District Welcome Center, Hope 4 Youth and Coon Rapids Animal Humane Society thanked students for their generous donation of blankets.

The district Welcome Center, which helps new families, many arriving from outside of the United States, settle into the district, had no blankets at that time, according to Betty Coleman, English as a second language intake specialist.

“Your blankets are so generous,” she told students.

Hope 4 Youth, which operates a drop-in center for homeless youth in Anoka and recently opened a transitional housing facility for young adults in Coon Rapids, also expressed gratitude for the blankets.

“(They) will help keep a young person very, very warm during this cold season,” said Cheri Halek, Hope 4 Youth community engagement manager.

Younger students made miniature blankets for cats and dogs at the Coon Rapids Animal Humane Society, where approximately 5,000 animals are cared for each year, according to Stacy McDonald, site manager.

“You have made the animals not only happier, but healthier,” McDonald told students during the assembly. “We will do our best to find them all new homes for the holidays.”

In the weeks leading up to winter break each year, students work to give back to the community in a variety of ways.

This year, in addition to making fleece tie blankets, students hosted a food and toy drive and Pennies for Patients contest.

“Your kindness makes the world a little better,” said Sarah Reed, social worker at the Coon Rapids school, after announcing a total of $1,953 was raised for cancer patients through Pennies for Patients in two weeks.

Special retirement recognition

After recognizing students for their work to do good this holiday season, Principal Paul Anderson acknowledged head secretary Dolores Ruckel on her last day with students before retirement.

Ruckel started working in the district at age 18 in communications.

She accepted a secretarial position at Sand Creek 25 years ago and will miss the kids, staff and “the wonderful feeling here,” she said at the conclusion of her 43-year career in the district.

It is a tradition for retiring Sand Creek staff to walk around the building on their last day to receive a flower from each classroom so that they have a bouquet to bring home. Students presented Ruckel with flowers and lots of hugs at the assembly.

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Sand Creek Elementary School donated more than 130 fleece tie blankets to the Anoka-Hennepin School District Welcome Center, Hope 4 Youth and Coon Rapids Animal Humane Society. Photo by Olivia Alveshere Principal Paul Anderson puts his arm around Sand Creek Elementary School’s head secretary, Dolores Ruckel, Dec. 22, her last day with students before retiring after a 43-year career with the Anoka-Hennepin School District. Photo by Olivia Alveshere Sand Creek Elementary’s head secretary, Dolores Ruckel, receives flowers from students on her last day with students before retirement Dec. 22. Ruckel has worked in the Anoka-Hennepin School District since she was 18 – 43 years. Photo by Olivia Alveshere
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Sand Creek Elementary’s head secretary, Dolores Ruckel, receives flowers from students on her last day with students before retirement Dec. 22. Ruckel has worked in the Anoka-Hennepin School District since she was 18 – 43 years. Photo by Olivia Alveshere