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The Fremont Area Community Foundation will be funding seven community service projects, spearheaded by area youth, as part of its annual Youth Philanthropy Contest.

The Youth Philanthropy Contest invites kids from ages kindergarten through 12 to submit applications for funding that would allow them to carry out a project of their choice. This is the fourth time the foundation has done the contest.

This year’s batch of seven projects will receive more than $6,000 in funding. The projects span from involving individual youths to large groups, and involve 59 kids in total — bringing the total number “youth philanthropists” created by the contest in its four years to 340, says Foundation Executive Director Melissa Diers.

Diers said that, increasingly, area schools are starting to weave community service in their lesson plans, sometimes even requiring students to amass credit hours that can be fulfilled through community service. The Youth Philanthropy Contest hopes to foster that same mindset in youths.

“We just want to reinforce that, going forward as a community foundation, that this is an important thing, and hopefully with youth being introduced to the amazing power and impact of philanthropy at a young age this will become a lifetime habit and a lifetime activity for these kiddos as they grow up and becoming contributing members of their communities,” Diers said.

The youth presented their project ideas to a committee during a meeting just before Thanksgiving and were selected shortly after. All of the projects presented were granted funding.

A 4-H club is planning to sew and fill bags with hygiene products for the residents of Care Corps. A Girl Scout troop is making blankets for area fire departments that will be given to children who are victims of house fires. A group at the St. Paul’s and Elim Lutheran Church are creating “fidget mats” for individuals with Alzheimer’s, which provide physical activities and memory prompters.

The Archbishop Bergan Key Club is carrying out “Project Santa,” with the goal of providing a present to every youth resident at Jefferson House at Christmas time.

Local student Nathan Kudrna is conducting an expansion of a program he created for the Youth Philanthropy Contest back in March, called the “Youth and Elderly Enrichment Program” (YEEP). The program brings youth and elderly together for after-school activities and socialization. Kudrna plans to expand the program to other facilities.

The Hearts and Hooves 4-H Club will host a “Best of the Rest” sheep and goat show, which will raise money to improve the Kids’ Zone at the Dodge County Fair in Scribner, and provide another opportunity for kids who are raising livestock for show to compete.

And Fremont Middle School student Beau Shanahan presented an innovative idea for a pilot program that would provide Wifi for a select group of families who currently don’t have it. The idea, stemming from Fremont Public Schools’ recent effort to get Google Chromebook computers into the hands of every student grades 5 through 12, is to demonstrate the importance of Wi-Fi accessibility.

“He was thinking about how kids who have wireless access at home are able to submit homework assignments at home using their Chromebooks, and so he wondered what about the kids who might not have Wifi in their home,” Diers said. “Now the school, of course, has factored that reality into their entire Chromebook initiative, but he did raise a fair question.”

And so the project will function almost as a study, assessing how Wifi accessibility for students who currently lack access could have benefits such as improved grades.

“It’s part of our mission to enhance and expand the culture of philanthropy throughout our communities,” Diers said. “We encourage individuals of all ages to consider the importance of giving back to the community.”

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News Editor

Tammy Real-McKeighan is news editor of the Fremont Tribune. She covers news, features, religion stories and writes the weekly faith-based, Spiritual Spinach column.

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