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'Clean Start Drive' organized for food pantry

A "Clean Start Drive" is being initiated for Dickinson's AMEN Food Pantry.

The drive for cleaning and household products is coordinated by AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer Chelsea Mann. She is assigned to the Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP)-Plus Dakota West office.

"I'm doing this project for the National Day of Service (Sept. 11), which was recently created by the Edward M. Kennedy Service America Act," she added.

People in the community are asked to donate cleaning products from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 12, at the Dan's Supermarket-North.

When she asked what the food pantry needed, the following items were suggested: Cleaning products, laundry soap, shampoo, conditioner, bath soap, sponges, toilet paper, paper towels, toothpaste, trash and zip-lock bags.

Individuals who cannot donate on Sept. 12, may deliver the products to the RSVP-Plus office located in T-Rex mall.

Mann came up with the idea while working as a VISTA volunteer with Habitat for Humanity in Rockridge County, Va. When people moved into the houses, Habitat would give them a basket of cleaning supplies -- "a clean or fresh start" in their lives.

Mann was born in Dickinson, the daughter of Roger Mann and Amy Mann. She lived in Montana and Massachusetts, and attended college in Chicago before moving to Virginia.

Through AmeriCorps, Mann has committed to serving in the RSVP-Plus office for a year. If desired, she can stay a second year. AmeriCorps pays a stipend for living expenses.

"I help volunteers in the community find positions with other non-profits," she said.

"I'd like someday to run my own non-profit. It's a great foot in the door," she added.

For further information, to have someone pick up donations or to volunteer to help, call Mann at 701-227-8421.