Katteri Duman and Aspen Spencer photo

(L-R) Prairie High School seniors Katteri Duman and Aspen Spencer have been working on community service senior projects.

COTTONWOOD — Two Prairie High School seniors are using their senior project experience to help others.

Katteri Duman and Aspen Spencer are each reaching out to children through their respective senior projects.

Duman has been collecting items for baskets, which will be raffled with all proceeds going to Sister Mary’s Children for orphanages and homes that cater to the abused, abandoned and disabled in Mthatha, South Africa.

“Businesses and individuals have donated and made a variety of items for the baskets,” explained Duman. So far, she has 19 baskets for raffle.

Sister Mary’s Children has a local connection, as Sister Mary Paule Tacke is the sister of a local man. She began her work in South Africa in 1952 and continued for more than 50 years. Sister Mary died in 2014, but her dreams live on, thanks, in part, to Brenna and Joan Riggers and their families and Mark and Maxine Tacke, who founded the nonprofit, Sister Mary’s Children.

“I had planned to go on a mission trip to Jamaica in 2020, but it was canceled due to COVID,” Duman said. “This was a way I could still do something and give back.”

Duman’s cousin, Chaelena Stubbers, a 2010 Prairie graduate, had the opportunity to spend six months in South Africa at Bethany Home, a residence for children birth to 7, and one of the homes supported by Sister Mary’s Children.

“It was a wonderful, inspiring experience,” she said. She believes money raised will be used for basic needs at the home, as well as medical services, vehicles and teachers’ salaries.

Duman will have raffle tickets available at a booth during the fair; they are also at Cottonwood Community Credit Union; or call Duman at 208-816-1220.

Spencer chose a project that has meaning to her personally, as well.

“I had a rough upbringing, and my mom was a victim of domestic violence,” she explained.

This gave her the idea to help with making pillowcases which will be donated to Idaho Foster Care, Shriners Hospital and the local YWCA.

“Sometimes a foster kid or a child going through a lot in life doesn’t have the ability to take something personal with them, because they are moved around so quickly and randomly,” Spencer explained. “But a pillowcase is simple, and they can choose a material they like and it’s easy to take from place to place.”

Spencer has not only sewn cases, but there is a large handful of people in the community who are also sewing the cases, both in extra-large and standard sizes.

“I will have more than 100 to donate, thanks to everyone’s help,” she said.

Prairie Elementary School teacher Colleen Sonnen has been mentoring the girls on their projects.

“I really like that the district has said all these projects will be community-service oriented,” Sonnen said.

“Yes, I feel like this has helped me look outside of myself,” Duman agreed.

“It does feel good to do something for someone else,” Spencer added.

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