Since around the Christmas holiday, Tri-County Superintendent-Principal Ryan Baron has been contacted on a regular basis— via email every couple weeks— by a leader of a recently started group focused on helping Kittson County children in need. The group is called KIDSon Cares and one of its leaders is Jacob Hook.
Hook asked Baron about the district’s students’ needs. Baron then asked his staff this question and received responses that he passed along to Hook.
“I literally just forward those (requests) on to Mr. Hook. And three days later, they’re sitting in our school for our kids,” Baron said. “I told him I needed shoes the one time and I got every range of shoe from three to seven. I got a couple different pairs of each size and they’re sitting here in our school waiting. And we’ve already divvied out some of them for kids who have needed them.”
Hook provided an update on KIDSon Cares, including the support it has received and the donations it has made so far, some of its challenges, ways it’s working to expand, and its ultimate future goal. Baron and Tri-County School staff member Laurie Lofstrom also highlighted the impact the group has made to this point and expressed their thoughts about the group.
A 1995 Kittson County Central High School graduate, Hook participated on the football team as a seventh grade. During this time, some fellow youth threw his old pair of shoes in the mud, rendering them unuseable for practice and sports. A teacher knew of this incident and when he went to practice that same day, he found a brand new pair of football cleats waiting for him at this locker.
“That just stuck with me for my whole life,” Hook said. “And I’ve always just wanted to give back what that person did.”
Growing up in a tough financial situation, he saw those around him provide support.
“We always had people in the area that would kind of look out for me, and provide me with things when I was need,” Hook said. “So that’s kind of the inspiration behind all this.”
Led by Hook and a friend of Hook’s and owner of C&M Ford in Hallock, Paul Blomquist, KIDSon Cares is a non-profit charity focused on helping and providing various things, such as clothing and equipment, to Kittson County children in need. Its mission statement on its website reads, “Providing support and inspiration to the youth of Kittson County through community awareness and outreach.”
Having its first meeting on October 21, KIDSon Cares has raised just over $25,000 so far and has larger donations coming soon. By mid-March, Hook anticipates the donation level reaching $30,000.
“It’s (the support) been amazing. Our first goal was to raise about 10,000 (dollars) in our first campaign, and that came really quickly.”
Speaking of support, on February 25, KIDSon Cares representatives served as the guest beer tenders at Revelation Ale Works in Hallock. The group raised approximately $750 in tips. After a matching donation from Revelation Ale Works, KIDSon Cares raised about $1,500 at the event.
It has some upcoming events, including a charity golf tournament on July 15 at the Two Rivers Golf Course in Hallock. It has plans for a potential charity concert for KIDSon Cares down the road too.
Becoming a 501c3 charity, KIDSon Cares qualifies for programs that large corporations set aside money for, Hook explained.
“We’re trying to build a good base,” Hook said. “We still are kind of new and people are excited about us and that we have those funds (for) many years going forward.”
This organization has gone from getting a child in need shoes, winter boots, and winter gear to delivering an “abundance” of winter gear and extra shoes at schools across the county.
At Tri-County, staff member Laurie Lofstrom explained how KIDSon Cares has delivered much winter wear— coats, snowpants, boots, hats, and mittens— and numerous pairs of new shoes to use as needed. Many of these items were put to immediate use.
She said Tri-County School is grateful for these “much needed” donations.
“Although KIDSon Cares is a new organization, they have already helped so many in need in our county,” Lofstrom said via email. “A huge thank you goes out to Jacob Hook and Paul Blomquist.”
Baron said Hook has been “phenomenal” about getting Tri-County School everything it has needed. Baron complimented the group, not only for its donations, but for its mission.
“Being in a frontier status county… we kind of get lost in the mix being small and being out in northern Minnesota, Northwest Minnesota,” Baron said. “This foundation focuses on the kids of our county, and not even necessarily our county. We have kids from Roseau County, from Marshall County and from Kittson County in our school district, and it doesn’t discriminate among them.”
As for other assistance KIDSon Cares has provided, at the Lancaster School, its teachers were raising money to purchase snacks for school children. Now, these teachers go up to the local grocery store to pick up these snacks for their classrooms and KIDSon Cares covers the cost. The group has also assisted a Kittson County family that’s going through some difficult things.
It has plans for the summer to potentially help some children go to a camp if the need exists.
“We just want to help out, just keep expanding our scope,” Hook said, “and just help out as many kids as we can in the county.”
KIDSon Cares is extending its reach through a scholarship program, aided by it becoming a 501c3 charity. It looks to start giving two scholarships at each of the three Kittson County high schools, each for at least $500 per student. In the future, it may increase these scholarships to $1,000.
To see the complete story, read the March 4 issue of the North Star News in print or online.