Discovery Kidz provides a safe, caring learning opportunity for kids to develop physical, mental, social, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.
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Chelsea and Dustin Russell were married at Central Lutheran Church, but she has other ties to the church as well. In 2010, she joined the Community Outreach Board, which helps oversee Central’s Restoration Center, a place that offers services for anyone in need.
Shortly after joining the board, Jace Nelson, Beth Nelson and Chelsea Russell put in a pilot program proposal for Discovery Kidz. The Restoration Center offers assistance in many area, but none of the programs were tailored to children. Discovery Kidz complements the efforts of the Restoration Center well.
Summer of 2015 will mark our 5th year of service and we have grown a lot. In the fall of 2012, our program received the first ever Special Recognition Award from the University of St Thomas Gibney Award program. We also receive product donations from J.M. Smucker Company, Cub Foods, and Famous Dave's of Roseville.
Several of the children who attend are homeless or highly mobile and we provide a safe, consistent, place where they can interact with other children, have a snack, express their creativity and receive items to make their lives easier.
The take-away bags are a key aspect of our program. Many of our children depend on schools to provide meals throughout the school year. Our take-away bags provide lunches thoughout the summer. The bags have sandwich fixings, juice, healthy snacks, 'silverware' and hand wipes. All items are shelf-stable and can be used “on the go.”
While the Restoration Center believes this program enhances their community outreach, we have decided to finance this program solely with outside funds rather than depleting the Restoration Center’s limited resources for other programs such as housing assistance. We were able to use our $1,200 Gibney award for last year's programming, but are seeking donations for 2014.
Your donation would help us continue the program and increase the quality and quantity of the food take-away bags. It will allow us the flexibility to purchase new or gently used clothes, and undergarments in the sizes we are not able to obtain during the clothes drive. It will also aid us in preparing the children for their return to school – starting off on the right foot with needed supplies.
Please consider adding Discovery Kidz to your year end donations. Your gift is tax deductable. While the donation is given through Razoo, we will receive all of the funds minus a small credit card processing fee. I will get a list of donor names so I can reconcile with Central and insure your gifts are used as you wished.
Any amount will help – it’s the little things that matter to these kids. Just click the " Make a Donation" box on the right of the screen. Thank you for your gift!
Discovery Kidz Anecdotes:
Clothing. While the children enjoyed the Kidz Clothes Closet, a great example of providing needed clothing involved snack preparation. We were making ice cream in a bag which requires shaking a bag of ice. We bought a pair of socks for each student to put on their hands during this activity. When we gave one child his socks he asked if he got to keep them - when we said he did, he exclaimed, “Oh good, I've never had any socks!”
Social Interaction. One of the new children was bowling with a new friend while waiting to be picked up. The dad was peeking in the window and we went out to tell him he could pick up his son. He replied, “please just let him play for a while, he hasn’t been around other kids in a while.” The father and son had recently been placed in a shelter that did not cater to children. While it provided a place to sleep, it did not provide age appropriate social interaction. Without the funds to enroll his son in a summer program, Discovery Kidz was the only free program he had found where his kid could “just be a kid.”
Food. It was a child’s first time at Discovery Kidz and when he peered into his food take away bag he exclaimed, “Bread! I am going to give this to my mom; she hasn’t had bread in months.” The family had just been approved for Section 8 housing and had been living in shelters for several months.
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