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Helmut Schmidt, Published October 10 2012

West Fargo student helps Day of Caring go statewide

WEST FARGO – When Mark Staples took part in last year’s United Way Day of Caring, he realized it needed more input from an important group.

In fact, the West Fargo High School senior said, it’s one of the most enthusiastic groups around: students.

Thanks to Staples’ efforts, today’s Day of Caring will nearly triple the number of last year’s 1,200 volunteers, and it will also go statewide, becoming the first North Dakota Student Day of Caring.

More than 2,000 students from 51 schools are joining community-minded adults to fan out this afternoon to clean and winterize homes, garages and yards of senior citizens.

West Fargo High will provide at least 50 of those volunteers, Staples said.

“I’m just ecstatic seeing that something’s happened with all of this,” said Staples, who is in Bismarck today for a news conference about this first Student Day of Caring.

In Cass and Clay counties, 1,365 volunteers are expected to be part of this year’s Day of Caring, from grade-school students to business leaders, said Kristina Hein, a United Way of Cass Clay spokeswoman.

The volunteers will visit more than 410 homes to do light cleaning and offer companionship, she said.

Hein said 150 volunteers participated in the first Day or Caring.

To make it a statewide happening is a great way to celebrate the event’s 21st anniversary, she said.

“We could not be prouder to partner with Mark,” Hein said. “It’s amazing to have that kind of reach. It was really our opportunity to grow. … The young people are helping the organization evolve.”

Staples, the student body president at West Fargo High, so enjoyed last year’s Day of Caring that he promised to create a student volunteerism program when he ran for president of the state Student Council. (He ended up being elected vice president.)

A friend then put him in contact with the United Way of Cass Clay, Staples said, and everything fell into place.

“Just the experience I had with that (Day of Caring) was just so cool, and I thought everyone should be involved in something like that,” Staples said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

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