Wright County 4-H Clubs gather donations for military families

A program at the Maple Lake VFW on Sunday brought together 4-H Clubs from across the county in an effort to provide aid to the families of military personnel.

The program was the conclusion of an effort initiated by Michele Pawelk of the Chatham Climbers 4-H Club for the Key Volunteer Network, a program through Fort Snelling that helps military families in Minnesota by collecting gift certificates that can be used by the families at statewide businesses such as Cub Foods and Target.

Kathy Wald, Debbie Kalina and Master Gunnery Sergeant Wald, representing the Key Volunteer program, expressed their appreciation for the $3,570 in donated gift certificates collected by the county’s 4-H groups. “And I’d like to thank Michelle Pawelk, without whose vision, commitment and determination we would not be here today,” Kalina said.

Kalina added that the 4-H clubs could add another ‘H’ to their emblem, “because today, you are truly heroes.”

Shandi Pawelk served as host for the program and introduced 4-H members who presented their donations, with Jim Vrchota and Kurt Johnson providing musical numbers that included “Proud to be an American,” “Have You Forgotten,” and “God Bless America.”

The program on Sunday included words of praise for the volunteer effort by Maple Lake Mayor Mike Messina and Wright County Commissioner Dick Mattson. “I don’t know how we could work this system without 4-Hers,” Mattson said.

But the biggest round of applause was reserved for members of the VFW Honor Guard, representing the military men and women who served as the inspiration for the Key Volunteer Network.