MANKATO — As a very involved high school student, Tatum Schulz says she's had plenty of opportunities to engage with just about every facet of high school life.
But there's been one activity, she said, that rises above the rest.
Schulz, a senior, is a member of the Student Council's Executive Board. The board in the last two years has embarked on a mission to make a difference in the lives of fellow students in need.
They started a program called the Mankato East Sharing Tree, a program that helps provide for students in need during the holiday and winter months. Students raised more than $8,000 and used the money to shop for Christmas gifts — more than 700 total — and wrapped them all. Their efforts helped about 200 students at both East junior and senior high schools.
"This is the coolest thing I've ever been involved with in my entire high school career," Schulz said. "And I've been involved in a lot."
The Mankato East Sharing Tree program was impressive enough to get the Student Council's Executive Board recognized as the 2014 Young Pathfinder Award winner.
Pathfinder Awards, the winners of which were announced Thursday, are given annually to individuals and businesses whose deeds and work ethic fall within the spirit of the late Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. This is the 30th year the Martin Luther King Jr. Commemorative Board has recognized such work in the Mankato area.
Pathfinder Awards come in three forms: The Pathfinder, Young Pathfinder and Business Pathfinder.
Bev Mountain, program coordinator for Mankato Area Public Schools Adult Basic Education, is the Pathfinder Award winner. And while she was proud, she was clearly not used to all the attention.
"Did it show in my face?" she asked. "This is not where I like to be. I tell my students, 'We're all on the same page, we just have different jobs.'"