Kinzi Hansen, second from the left, is joined by her school friends Kiyah Price to her right, and Stella Augoustiop on her left. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Kinzi Hansen, second from the left, is joined by her school friends Kiyah Price to her right, and Stella Augoustiop on her left. Photo by Ray Miller-Still

Sharing the love this Valentine’s Day

Crestwood Elementary student Kinzi Hansen organized a Valentines Box drive so every elementary student in her school district could celebrate the holiday.

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, Kinzi Hansen wanted to make sure every kid in her area got some love.

That’s why the Crestwood Elementary fifth-grader organized a Valentines Box drive at her school, with the proceeds being given to the Sumner and Bonney Lake food banks and given to elementary-school children in the Sumner-Bonney Lake School District area who receive backpacks filled with food for the weekends.

Principal Kay Gallo said Kinzi, along with other students involved in the school’s student leadership program and physical education teacher Rhonda Smith, set a goal of collecting 180 boxes of Valentines for the drive.

Instead, they collected close to 500.

“Students made posters, talked at a recent assembly, and did a ‘commercial’ on our daily news show encouraging students to donate new boxes of Valentines,” Gallo said. “This way, all students in our community will be able to have beautiful Valentines to give out to their friends and classmates.”

Not only did Kinzi help organize the drive, but she and several fellow students and families helped pack backpacks at the Sumner Food Bank on Thursday, Feb. 7.

Susan McCammon, who emailed The Courier-Herald about the event, said she expected a few kids and parents to join — not the nearly two dozen volunteers, who made quick work of the packing.

”Kinzi and her classmates were simply floating off the ground,” McCammon wrote in an email after the event. “I love to watch the youth catch the spirit of service. They think that they are lifting others, but it clearly lifts themselves as well.”

McCammon is a specialist with JustServe, a national website that aims to connect residents with local volunteer opportunities.

Though ran by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the volunteer opportunities promoted on the website — like volunteering at the Sumner Food Bank, which is how Kinzi got the idea for a Valentines Box drive in the first place — do not focus on religious instruction or proselytizing, said LDS member Jeri Gamblin, who helps run the JustServe websites for the Black Diamond, Buckley, Bonney Lake areas.

“It is simply a community-based service program” connecting people who want to volunteer with opportunities to do so, she said in a previous interview.

Kinzi said she’s looking forward to using JustServe to continue volunteering in her community.

She nearly broke down crying when she was asked how she felt about her drive’s success.

“It just makes me more happy,” to serve, she said.

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