VIRGINIA — Minnesota 4-H Ambassadors have served as role models for other youth during the past half decade, stepping up to engage in community service and education projects.

When the coronavirus pandemic hit, youth of the St. Louis County 4-H Ambassadors wanted to help people struggling at this time.

The group of roughly a dozen youth across the Iron Range, from sixth grade on up, “wanted to do something to help the community with COVID-19 and decided a food drive would be a good opportunity,” said Nicole Kudrle, an extension educator for 4-H and advisor of the county Ambassadors.

The group has teamed up with Youth in Action, St. Louis County Extension, the Rutabaga Project and the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency to hold a local food drive.

Non-perishable food items can be dropped off though Friday at Super One South in Virginia, all Zup’s Food Market locations, and at the AEOA building in Virginia.

Donations will be distributed in the Rutabaga Project’s Little Free Pantries located in Virginia at AEOA, Our Savior’s Lutheran Church and Hope Community Presbyterian Church, and at the Hoyt Lakes Municipal Building.

Pickups throughout the northern part of the county can be scheduled through Friday by calling 218-749-7120.

Little Free Pantries are mini outdoor food shelves where people in need can take non-perishables and people can leave items for others.

“Monetary donations will be divided up among local food banks,” Kudrle said. Checks can be made payable to the Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency and mailed to Kelsey Gantzer, AEOA, 702 Third Ave. S., Virginia, 55792.

The North St. Louis County Food Drive is being dubbed, “a great way to pledge your hands to larger service.”

Kudrle said 4-H Ambassadors meet once a month and serve as positive representatives for others in 4-H.

Youth in Action is a service organization consisting of high school students across the Iron Range. Its mission is to promote youth leadership and produce positive change in northern Minnesota via partnerships with area businesses, organizations and elected officials.

Youth involved in the food drive will transport the food to AEOA for distribution, Kudrle said.

They have been “stuck at home” during the pandemic, and “the kids are excited to help be able to do something during this whole thing.”

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