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Blessings with lessons at Murray Ridge School

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    Speech therapist Patty Clickner, left, and Shasta Knarr of Wellington work on the Murray Ridge blessing bag Tuesday.


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    Mary Gressler of Oberlin works on packaging some of the products for the Murray Ridge Blessing Bag project.


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    The Murray Ridge Blessing Bags are ready for distribution.



ELYRIA — Murray Ridge School students and Oberlin Murray Ridge Opportunity Vocational Center adult clients worked together to assemble blessing bags Tuesday.

The students and clients put hats, gloves, toiletries, bandages, snacks and other items into the bags. The bags will be donated to the Lutheran Church in Lorain, which will give the bags to the homeless in Lorain.

The blessing bags project supports the Hearts for Smiles community outreach program of Christ Lutheran Church in Lorain. Both the Oberlin and Lorain centers collaborated with Murray Ridge School to raise money and help assemble the bags. The Lorain site will assemble its bags at 12:30 p.m. today.

Mary Gressler, who’s been with the Murray Ridge Center for nearly 50 years, made a box of hand-knitted hats to add for the blessing bags. Gressler is a client from the Oberlin site.

The school and centers spent all of November collecting donations, fundraising and shopping for clothing, personal items, food and other supplies.

As the school began to raise money, the Lorain and Oberlin centers worked to match them. After collecting enough supplies, the school set a goal for at least 50 bags. The bags are categorized into three types: food, first aid and toiletries.

Lisa McCall, occupational therapist for the Murray Ridge School, said the project is a great way to teach students multiple skills, especially for senior students nearing graduation.

“It’s just been really overwhelming and amazing (to receive this much help),” she said.

Patty Clickner, speech pathologist for the center, said she helped teach students how they can help the homeless. After fundraising, McCall said the students shopped for items and sorted them. These activities taught item recognition and organization. The assembly of the bags also taught students sequencing and fine motor skills.

Lisa Lee, adult program instructor at the Oberlin site, said she felt grateful for the collaboration between the three institutions.

“These guys are really giving the opportunity to experience giving back to the community,” she said. “It’s been a really positive thing.”

Contact Bruce Walton at (440) 329-7123 or Follow him on Facebook @BWalton440 or Twitter @BruceWalton.
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