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Lucky Leprechauns provide backpacks for students

By KATIE LEFEBVRE, Globe staff reporter
(Email Katie)

Students throughout Siouxland will have backpacks and school supplies thanks to the Lucky Leprechauns.

Organizations in Siouxland donated money for supplies and residents of Northern Hills Retirement Community and other volunteers donated their time to fill the backpacks on Aug. 7 at Northern Hills in Sioux City.

The 163 bags were filled for students at nine schools who have been identified by school guidance counselors, teachers or principals. Some of the students attend Holy Cross-St. Michael Center in Sioux City and St. Michael Catholic School in South Sioux City.

Lucky Leprechauns was started by Ben Nashleanas, son of Kelly Nashleanas, who still helps facilitate the program. This is the eighth year students will receive clothing, shoes, books and supplies through the program.

“I think the fact that we are able to meet a designated specific need for each child that has been identified by a teacher or principal is huge,” said Kelly Nashleanas, parishioner at St. Michael Parish in Sioux City. “We don’t just go and drop off 100 book bags at a school and say, ‘Here, I hope you can use these.’ We go out and plan these bags for those children individually.”

All of those helping, she said, are wanting to help children “who truly need help. It makes a world of difference. It is important to give back.”

Ruth Kokjohn, a Northern Hills resident and parishioner at Immaculate Conception in Sioux City, passed out colored pencils to those filling the backpacks.

“It is for the needy children. I think it is wonderful because they get everything the regular students do,” she said. “It is so costly to send children to school anymore. It seems like they have to have more things every year.”

Kokjohn said back in her day all they needed was a pencil and paper and they were okay. She was a preschool teacher and preparing for school brings back memories of those days.

Robert Kull, a parishioner at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Dakota Dunes, S.D., works for Premier Bank Card, one of the organizations that donated for some of the supplies. He walked from station to station filling backpacks with items.

“I think it is good for the community because it is not only helping the needy children from many schools in the Siouxland area, but also that it brings together the gap between the children and the elderly,” he said. “You don’t find that too often. There are also other businesses up here helping.”

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