Extension and Foundation distribute 400 activity kits to keep children engaged during the pandemic

In rural communities across Delaware County, kids are keeping busy thanks to a grant from the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County COVID-19 Relief Fund. The fund provided $2,500 to Iowa State University Extension and Outreach – Delaware County for the assembly of 400 Kits for Kids activity bags. 

The Extension typically hosts 10 summer camps with 20 students each but had to cancel due to the pandemic. 

“There was a need for entertainment for kids this summer, and in smaller towns, there aren’t always a lot of options,” said Jade Hargrafen, Extension program director. “When we were discussing this idea, it didn’t look like parks would reopen, or the pool, or even the library would be an option, so we had to think outside the box to keep children engaged and learning over the summer.”

The Extension created four different themed kits — Art; STEM; Fizz, Bubble & Goo; and Staycation — each containing four age-appropriate lessons for children in kindergarten through fifth grade. The kits were distributed in late June during meal pick-up at multiple locations for EdCo, West Delaware and Maquoketa Valley students. Many of the activities and supplies could be reused by multiple family members and were similar to the lessons planned for Extension camps. 

“As both a mom and a teacher, I appreciated the STEM kits put together and donated to families,” said Sheri Stickney of Manchester. “My inquisitive son has looked forward to doing an activity each day. We read the directions together, measure items, discuss our observations and wonder how things work. Most of all, we have had fun spending time together as we do each project. Thank you.”

Vicki Spellerberg, Foundation board member, reached out to Hargrafen and encouraged her to apply for a grant from the Foundation’s COVID-19 Relief Fund. Foundation board members also helped deliver the assembled kits to distribution sites. 

“We hope the students enjoyed these fun, hands-on activity kits, and we want to thank ISU Extension and Outreach for their help in creating and packing the Kits for Kids activities,” said Spellerberg.

Delaware County Extension has been focused on increasing educational youth programming over the past two years. The grant helped double the Extension’s usual summer programming impact, even during the pandemic. “It was great to extend our reach to new groups. Hopefully kids will see the fun lessons and come back to do an after-school program or day camp,” Hargrafen said. 

Generous donors with Delaware County ties have given nearly $30,000 to the Foundation for the Future of Delaware County COVID-19 Relief Fund over the past three months. The Foundation has leveraged this generosity to provide 13 grants totaling approximately $21,400 to local nonprofits like the Extension. 

To give online to the COVID-19 Relief Fund, visit dbqfoundation.org/ffdcCovidRelief. Checks made out to Foundation for the Future of Delaware County COVID-19 Relief Fund may be dropped off at F&M Bank in Manchester, GNB Bank in Manchester and Community Savings Bank in Manchester, Earlville and Edgewood. Checks may also be mailed to FFDC, 200 E. Main St., Manchester, Iowa 52057-410. 

To apply for a grant for your nonprofit, email ffdccovid19@gmail.com for a grant application.