MARSHALL - A pack of 24 Crayola crayons, a book, a dry erase board - these goodies are just part of what 800 area young ones will get when they attend kindergarten round-ups this spring.
Xi Beta Epsilon members packed 175 Wild About Kindergarten bags Friday and other groups such as area confirmation students will help pack the rest, said Teresa Kock, the community impact coordinator from United Way of Southwest Minnesota.
"Kids are very excited to get them," she said.
Photo by Karin Elton
Osa Hanneman, 4, helps her mom, Kristin Hanneman, pack kindergarten readiness bags Friday morning at Park Side Elementary. Kristin Hanneman is a member of the sorority Xi Beta Epsilon, which volunteered for United Way of Southwest Minnesota to stuff 175 bags which will go out to area children in public and private schools.
Heidi Critchley, Marshall Public Schools elementary principal, said the kids have a "huge smile on their faces when they get the bags and ask, 'I get to take this home?'"
The learning materials can be worked with from now until September.
"Anytime you can get reading materials into kids' hands at a young age it makes a difference when they start school," Critchley said.
Marshall Public Schools will have Kindergarten Round Up at 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Park Side Elementary cafeteria. A total of 21 area schools will get bags from the United Way of Southwest Minnesota Success By 6 Initiative.
The bags, which are funded by donations to the annual United Way of Southwest Minnesota campaign, come with instructions for parents on what to do with the materials which include shapes for matching and items to learn their letters and numbers.
"It helps them for that first day of kindergarten," said Kock.
Harlen Ulrich, the elementary principal at Minneota, said the parents appreciate the bags because many of the things the students need for kindergarten are in those bags - "the crayons and the markers, a lot of neat stuff."
Ulrich said the bags are "very well-received by the kids and the parents. It's an excellent program."
Schools distributing Wild About Kindergarten Bags at their kindergarten round-ups are: Canby, Clarkfield Charter, E.C.H.O. Charter, Holy Redeemer, Hendricks, Ivanhoe, Lake Benton, Lakeview, Lynd, Marshall, Marshall Area Christian School, Milroy, Minneota, Murray County Central, RTR, Samuel Lutheran, School of St. Peter, St. Mary's, Tracy, Walnut Grove/Westbrook, and Yellow Medicine East.
Additional help with preparation of items was provided by the North Star Mutual Insurance Company of Cottonwood and Henle Printing of Marshall. Student volunteers, PTA members or service groups at most schools also helped with assembly of the bags to be distributed at their school.