Kandiyohi County Board throws support behind local 4-H club's award application


— The St. John's Roadrunners 4-H Club, based in Willmar, has a history of serving its community.

In 2020, the club started up seven

Little Free Libraries

, which in the ensuing years have distributed hundreds of books to community members. The group's latest service project focused on helping the

Kandiyohi County Food Shelf

and some of its most vulnerable clients.

"One of our focuses is community pride," said Megan Gilles, club leader.

Gilles, along with club president Adriana Behl, spoke at Tuesday's

Kandiyohi County Board

meeting to request support for the club's application for a state award after completing the service project for the food shelf.

"Thank you for your willingness to support my club's application for the Association of Minnesota Counties 4-H Community Leadership Award," Behl said.

If selected for the award, the club would receive a $500 grant from the association, which Behl said the group would put to good use.

"If we win this cash award, we will expand our project with the food shelf," Behl said.

The Roadrunners, with a $750 grant from Compeer Financial, helped the food shelf purchase new signage. The updated signs will be placed once the weather warms up.

"We added Spanish translations and elevated the curbside pickup signs," Behl said.

The club members also created kits for homeless people and for seniors. The kits for people without housing included items such as can openers, utensils, plates and basic toiletries.

"Even though homeless residents might receive food, they may have nothing to cook it with," Behl said.

Commissioner Steve Gardner thanked the club for reaching out to the homeless community in Kandiyohi County and urged them, and others, to continue to do so.

"Right now it is a really difficult winter for them," Gardner said.

The youth also created kits for low-income seniors who use the Nutrition Assistance Program for Seniors. The kits included a reusable tote bag, an activity such as playing cards, adult coloring books and crossword puzzles, and another item such as body wash, hand lotion or grippy socks.

Behl said the goal was to provide some holiday cheer to a group of people that might not have had much.

The club members did the shopping and put together 80 kits — 20 for homeless persons and 60 for seniors.

"Many members were involved, including the shopping, the packing and one member, Arianna Gilles, even sewed reusable bags for the senior kits," Behl said.

The kits for homeless people were given to the Kandiyohi County Food Shelf to distribute as needed. Roadrunner members gave out the senior kits during the December Nutrition Assistance Program distribution at the Willmar Community Center.

"We are so grateful for the St. John's Roadrunner 4-H Club in all their efforts and hard work making the Kandiyohi County Food Shelf a better place for the many people that come to us," said Kandiyohi County Food Shelf Executive Director Alana Ziehl in a letter to the Association of Minnesota Counties supporting the club's award application.

The County Board was impressed with the work the club did, and approved a letter of support for the award application.

"You accomplished a lot with that $750," said Commissioner Roger Imdieke. "Congratulations and thanks for that."

Imdieke said the board hopes to hear some good news about the award at the upcoming Association of Minnesota Counties Legislative Conference in March, when the award winners will be announced. Two clubs will be chosen.

"As a former 4-H'er, many moons ago, I want to thank you for all the effort you have done for this. It is great to see such enthusiasm from young people," said Commissioner Duane Anderson. "I hope you can spread it to other citizens in our communities and county."