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Students chip in to help: Young cooks helping area food shelves

Kaylee Fisher gripped a silver cookie scooper and poked at a mound of dough stuck stubbornly in her utensil. "It won't come out!" the 13-year-old said to a group of 7th-graders crowded around a baking sheet. Classmate Rachel Baumann quickly offer...

Kaylee Fisher gripped a silver cookie scooper and poked at a mound of dough stuck stubbornly in her utensil.

"It won't come out!" the 13-year-old said to a group of 7th-graders crowded around a baking sheet.

Classmate Rachel Baumann quickly offered advice.

"You've got to use your muscles," she chided. "You need special skills to do this."

The girls were among 47 Ben Franklin Junior High students gathered at Fargo's Hope Lutheran Church on Friday.

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For nearly three hours, students mixed, baked and packaged 40 dozen chocolate chip cookies for a class project designed to benefit area food banks.

Students will sell the baked goods during the Fargo School District's parent-teacher conferences next week. All profits will be donated to local food shelves.

The project, the brainchild of several Ben Franklin teachers, allows children to work together to help needy citizens, said instructor Linda Coons.

"It internalizes the idea of doing for others in the community," she said.

That's something Fargo schools have emphasized for the past decade by implementing character education and service learning initiatives into lesson plans, Coons said.

Friday's baking expedition was part of a larger curriculum in which students spend one period each week learning about conduct and selfimprovement.

Known as "pride time," students have study Internet safety and also participate in games and team-building exercises, said students Alysha Braaten and Jenna Hass.

While placing dollops of cookie dough onto a baking tray, the girls said they're excited about the class's philanthropic efforts.

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"I really like this, especially since its raising money," Alysha said.

"Besides just fundraising for our school it's for people who really need it," said Jenna.

That attitude is welcome news for local nonprofits worried a focus on natural disasters will prevent people from giving to hometown organizations.

Donations to Fargo-Moorhead's Emergency Food Pantry dwindled after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita captured the nation's attention, said Linda Clark, the organization's coordinator.

She said she's optimistic the shelter can bolster its stock in time for the holidays.

Fargo teachers and students said they hope they can be a part of making that happen.

"So many people are giving to the hurricane which is very important, but our local shelves are in need too," said teacher Deb Hallquist.

"There hasn't been a complaint about doing a dish. They're all engaged in a positive attitude and for me that's what it's all about," Hallquist said.

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