Fifth-grader David Pine presents the prizes while seventh-grader Andy Roberts helps Elim Home residents pick out their bingo trophies during Give Me 5’s regular visit last Thursday.

Mille Lacs County Times

The 14 kids involved in Milaca Community Education’s Give Me 5 group mentor program will be observing “Thank a Mentor Day” today, Jan. 26, with pizza and praises.

Last week, the group spent its Thursday afternoon playing bingo at the Elim Home. The students, ranging from fifth to ninth grade, took turns calling, helping residents keep track of their score cards and handing out prizes.

“They just keep talking about how good this makes them feel,” said program coordinator Kathy Fitschen.

And the Elim Home bingo players are equally excited about the regular visits from the Give Me 5 group.

“The residents look forward to them when they come,” TR Assistant Stacy Knight said. “They really enjoy them.”

For fifth-grader David Pine, helping the residents is a rewarding experience. His favorite is “to see them smile when they get a prize,” he said.

Seventh-grader William Wenz agreed.

“It’s fun,” Wenz said. “I get to meet so many people who are really nice. Some of them can be a little mad, but most days they’re happy. They remind me of my grandpa so much.”

The afternoon of bingo is just one of the many activities students and their mentors do together. They help sell trees during Mille Lacs County’s Soil and Water Conservation District sales, clean up roadways and parks and volunteer around Milaca.

“We’d like to have a lot more community service opportunities,” Fitschen said. “If you have anything — call me.”

For the full story, see the Thursday, Jan. 26 print edition of the Times.