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Gerdy Whirlwind Solider, left, and Meranda Wood, right with Youth Built volunteered to work with the local Salvation Army to deliver Christmas bags to the resident in Northland Apartments on Tuesday afternoon. Shown recieving her goodies is Juanita Bahr. Monte Draper | Bemidji Pioneer

Bi-CAP YouthBuild delivers gifts to elderly

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BEMIDJI — Alyssa Beaulieu offered a package of gifts Tuesday to a senior apartment resident, wishing her a merry Christmas on behalf of the Salvation Army and BiCAP YouthBuild.

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The woman happily accepted the gift — a package of tissues, chapstick and sugar-free candy; a Salvation Army magazine; and a decorative wall-hang — and smiled.

“Thank you very much,” she said. “Have a great day! And merry Christmas to you too!”

The whole exchange lasted mere moments, but was repeated dozens of times as YouthBuild students delivered holiday gift bags at Northland Apartments.

Earlier Tuesday, they delivered the bags to residents at Nymore Evergreen Acres. Today, they will deliver bags to residents at Neilson Place and GoldPine Home.

“They appreciate it a lot,” said Kaeli Rojas, a YouthBuild student.

For about two months, 15 YouthBuild students have been assembling the gifts, including a reindeer bag, a penguin bag and a decorative wall hang that said, “Jesus. Hang your hope on Him.”

In all, they created about 570 gift bags that will be delivered to 12 locations throughout Beltrami County.

“I liked the penguins,” said Rhiannon LaDuke.

The YouthBuild students all agreed the best part of the project was hand-delivering them to the residents and seeing their appreciation.

“It was, overall, a really fun project,” Rojas said.

Carol Campbell said the Salvation Army has been doing the holiday gift day program for many, many years but partnered with the YouthBuild program five years ago as students sought a community-service project.

In addition to the holiday gift bags, the two conduct a variety of service-learning initiatives.

“It’s been a neat experience,” Campbell said.

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