Some of the nicest things about life are the surprises.
For parents and friends and family, the surprise is really nothing new. For others who only read about young people if the headline is negative, read on.
A group of college students in Brainerd may provide that kind of surprise by their efforts to support a charity and clean up the environment in one fell swoop.
The students recycle aluminum each year and then vote on a charity to receive the proceeds at the end of the school year. The American Cancer Society was the recipient of a $100 donation.
It's not the amount that is important as much as the idea of taking action for others when so much of growing as a young adult involves introspection.
Jo Larsen, a supervisor in student housing at the Pines, takes a certain amount of pride in the students' choices. She watches over about 100 of them during a school year. It's often a 24-hour job.
She said some times students go to college and don't think about how much they depended on parents for decisions, both large and small.
"I always make sure I tell them I'm 46 and when there is an important decision in my life I still call my parents," Larsen said.
She watches their growth as independent people, experiencing the exciting mix of freedom and responsibility that college can bring.
"I think there is a certain amount of awareness that comes with them. I guess the biggest thing is they are very mature when they come in, which was a surprise to me. And when they leave they are even more mature."
Larsen is gratified when they make good decisions like giving back to their community through charitable donations. And those donations took a little more work in taking recycling in than just digging into a wallet.
"I'm so proud of the kids here."
Good deeds should not go unnoticed. And if they change misconceptions and predetermined notions about age groups -- so much the better.
"I think (students) just continue to teach me more," Larsen said. "They continually teach me about life, about learning. It's just unbelievable."
Larsen said as students go from teen-agers to early twenties they enter college for learning that goes beyond class studies.
"You learn about yourself and about who you are. And of course I also tell the students that is something that never ends."
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