Thumbs up to Quinn Rassbach, an eighth-grader at St. Peter Middle School; her teacher Bre Landsteiner; and several classmates for organizing a clothing donation program at North Elementary and St. Peter middle schools.

The group collects clothing to offer to those who are in need. Rassbach also works with classmates Kiera Friedrich, Rahaf Salim, Sophie Meyer, Julie Weber and June Elias who collect and organize the loads of clothing that are donated.

They also get help from the Gustavus Adolphus College softball team and the National Honor Society at their St. Peter school. Rassbach has been organizing the drive since she was in the fourth grade and is back this year after the event was not held last year during the height of the pandemic.

Rassbach’s teacher Landsteiner is right when she says schooling should go beyond reading and math and help kids learn how to be kind.

That is certainly more true than ever today. The clothing drive is small but important effort to help others in need secure the basics of warmth and security. Rassbach says her heart is happy when she thinks of all the community support she has gotten in terms of donations, and the charity her and her classmates can provide to those in need.

It’s a great lesson for us all.

Tracking PFAS

Thumbs up to Minnesota regulators for asking many businesses, manufacturers, landfills and municipalities to start monitoring for polyfluoroalkyl substances or PFAS.

The industrial chemicals, known as “forever chemicals” because they never break down in the environment, are a major health and environmental threat across the country.

The MPCA is asking for voluntary monitoring in order to get a comprehensive understanding of where PFAS contamination is still coming from.

The monitoring will focus on finding and reducing PFAS contamination in rivers and lakes and identifying sources of air, soil and groundwater pollution.

PFAS cause a variety of cancers and other serious health problems. Getting a better understanding of the sources is a needed step to better control their spread.

Thanksgiving spirit

Six years ago an Arizona woman who thought she was texting her grandson mistakenly invited a stranger to her table for Thanksgiving.

The stranger flagged her mistake, told her she wasn’t his grandma, but asked if he could still come to the gathering.

Her response, as reported in USA Today, was: “Of course. That’s what grandmas do ... feed everyone.”

That young man, who happens to be a person of color, showed up and is no longer a stranger at the table of this kindhearted grandma, who happens to be white. He will return again this Thanksgiving to talk and eat and laugh with the people gathered around that table.

In these fractured times, this is truly a story from real life that lifts the heart.

Degrading democracy

Thumbs down to Jim Hagedorn and Michelle Fischbach, who represent southern Minnesota in the House of Representatives, for continuing to put tribal loyalty above the health of our political system.

This week Hagedorn and Fischbach joined all but two of their Republican colleagues in supporting and condoning the symbolic violence expressed by Rep. Paul Gosar, R-Ariz., who posted on his social media accounts an animated video depicting him killing Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y, and assaulting President Joe Biden.

The House Republican “leadership” couldn’t muster even a weak criticism of Gosar, and only two members of the caucus supported the Democrats on Wednesday as the chamber censured Gosar and stripped him of his committee assignments.

Meanwhile the party mutters about removing the 13 Republicans who voted for the infrastructure bill from their committees, and at least some of the 13 say they are receiving death threats.

Roads and water pipes bad. Violent threats good. This is the disgraceful level to which the Grand Old Party, with the concurrence of backbenchers Hagedorn and Fischbach, has sunk.

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