A union for a cause

Published 10:45 am Thursday, October 20, 2011

AHS Student Union officers talk about putting collection jars in local businesses for the Mower County Red Cross Personal Care Shelf Wednesday. - Trey Mewes/trey.mewes@austindailyherald.com

AHS students band together to give back to community

It takes a student to raise money for a community.

That’s what Austin High School students believe. There’s a new group of AHS students finding ways to help the community.

The AHS Student Union was born out of a need to include people in volunteer work, members say.

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“We wanted to give students a group that wasn’t so exclusive like (National Honors Society) and Student Council,” said Matt Lunning, SU president. “We wanted them to be in a group that gave them the same benefits as being in those other groups, like community service and leadership skills.”

Lunning and SU Historian Lindsey Halsey came up with the group after attending a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards camp over the summer.

“We were thinking about it and I had a meeting with Mr. Bergstrom and we went from there,” Lunning said.

The group has about 25 members thus far, all of whom are working on SU’s first big fundraiser. The group is open to anyone at the high school.

“Instead of focusing on what characteristics you need to be in this group we wanted to bring diversity in, and have people with all different talents,” said SU Secretary Taylor Pedersen.

SU is raising money next week for the Mower County Red Cross Personal Care Shelf. SU members are placing collection jars at local businesses and collecting money through AHS Connects from Oct. 24 to Oct. 28. SU officers said Wednesday they hope to raise $1,000 for essential supplies the Red Cross can give to families in emergency situations.

“Personal care items are something that goes unnoticed,” Lunning said. “You don’t really know how important they are until you don’t have any.”

The county Red Cross chapter’s Personal Care Shelf helps more than 600 people a year in emergency situations, according to Executive Director Elaine Hansen.

“It’s great,” she said about the partnership. “What an exciting thing to have this program open to all the students at AHS get involved and make a difference.”

SU members hope to build on this first fundraiser with more opportunities to help the community. They hope to partner with similar groups at Ellis Middle School and Austin elementaries to create more opportunities to help the community.

“(We want) to work on different projects together,” Halsey said.