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Preschoolers become carpenters for a day

The Austin SkillsUSA club from Riverland Community College helped preschoolers in Albert Lea build stools last week.

Kids at the Building Blocks Preschool in Brookside Education Center assembled and painted stools with the volunteers from the SkillsUSA club.

“We’re letting the kids do as much as they can,” Heather Omar said.

Omar is a radiography student at Riverland and a member of the SkillsUSA club. She was there to help put the stools together and help the kids. Nick Reichl, a carpentry student at Riverland, was also helping the kids.

“I just like working with the kids,” Reichl said. “They get to experience working with their hands and maybe see that they like building stuff.”

Reichl and a few other carpentry students from Riverland prepared all the pieces of wood for the stools. The wood and supplies for 144 stools were donated from area businesses.

The Riverland students showed the kids how to put the pieces together with glue and then showed them how to reinforce it with screws. They would hold the screw gun and let the kids pull the trigger.

Then other student volunteers would take the kids to the painting area where they could choose a color to paint their stool. The kids wore smocks but still got the paint on their clothes, arms and faces. The project wasn’t very complicated, which is why the group chose it.

“There’s just a few parts to the stools,” Omar said. “And they can take them home and use them.”

The SkillsUSA club did this project last year as well. Katie Kirsch, member of SkillsUSA, said she wanted to expand the project for more kids this year. She also contacted the teachers and organized which Riverland students would help the kids.

“We wanted to involve as many areas as we could,” Kirsch said.

The club wanted something that was simple for the kids to do and also wanted to show them things they haven’t been exposed to.

“We wanted to give them something they don’t normally do,” Kirsch said. “Maybe open their eyes to something they might like to do eventually.”

The SkillsUSA club is for college students in any area of study. They get together and do community service, as well as compete in state and national competitions in their area of study.

“They want us to be well-rounded and to make a difference in our community,” Kirsch said.