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A beribboned Care Cub ready to go home with his new family. Photo submitted by Lauri Hohman.

Care Cubs for kindergartners

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Care Cubs -- creative, cuddly creations that began in the imagination of Silver Bay artist Lauri Hohman last winter. But thanks to the handiwork of local needlecrafters and the motivation of Denise Zeitz, another Silver Bay resident, they're coming to life and are about to become a part of a very special fundraiser. It all started, as many good things do, with one person's desire to help kids and soon grew to involve several local artists and crafters in the cause.

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This year, 38 children were enrolled in kindergarten at William Kelley Elementary School in Silver Bay -- 13 more than last year's class, so to ensure a good learning environment for all of the tiny scholars, a second kindergarten section was necessary. Concerned that current school budgets might now allow for all the necessary items to outfit the new classroom, Zeitz began thinking about a fundraiser and posted the idea online, said Hohman.

"That is where Denise came into the picture," she recalled. "(Zeitz) had put on Facebook that she would like to raise extra money for the new, additional kindergarten class this year in Silver Bay." When Hohman read the post, she was ready with an idea she'd developed months before.

"I am somewhat extreme and ideas come to me easily, so when it hit me that (Care Cubs) would be a great fundraiser, I put together 100 patterns with the faces included, packaged them, put them all in a box and waited for the right fundraiser to appear," she said. A kindergarten classroom in need of supplies seemed like a perfect fit, so she pitched her idea to Zeitz.

"I called her and presented the idea of getting people to sew these for us and return them to her so she can sell them at the Booya," Hohman said, and that became the plan. With the Booya Fest planned for this weekend at the Clair Nelson Center in Finland, crafters have been busy sewing the cuddly Care Cubs and by Saturday there'll be many ready for adoption, for just $10.

Since the fundraiser began to take shape, worries about adequate funding for the kindergarten classroom have been allayed.

"There was confusion about funding," explained William Kelley Elementary School Principal Joe Nicklay, "people interpreted it as kindergarten funding wouldn't be fully available this year."

He assured, however, that there is money available and classroom and student needs will be met. It was welcome news for Zeitz and Hohman, but they've decided that a little more money can only help and they intend to go through with the Care Cubs fundraiser, donating the proceeds to the school anyway.

"We are giving the money to the school for the kindergarten class, not because they need it, but because we want them to have it for anything extra. Since this class is just getting started, we want to help make it the best for them by giving a little extra," clarified Hohman. "We want to do this for the fun of it and to get others involved in the enjoyment of working together too."

Visit Zeitz and purchase a Care Cub (or two) on Saturday at the Booya Festival in Finland. The event will be held at the Clair Nelson Center, 6866 Cramer Road. Hohman said that the original goal was to have 100 bears available, but she acknowledged that may not be possible, so if there are leftover Care Cub pattern kits, they will be sold at the festival for $8.

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