Link program wraps gifts for vets

By 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
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Eight Laurel High School Link leaders and 16 freshman were on hand at Laurel Jaycee Hall to wrap presents for their community service day on Dec. 13.
Link is a mentoring program where upperclassmen assist freshman through orientation and help them get a good start in high school.
Link Advisor Wendy Bekkedahl said there are 40 link leaders and every 10 freshman are assigned to two Link Leaders.
Last Wednesday morning the Link students were wrapping presents for Independence Hall residents in the Billings Heights.
Bill Holder, director at Independence Hall, said there are 20 male veterans who have experienced homelessness currently residing at the transitional living facility, including some combat veterans.
“We work with the VA and are required to have a 70 percent success rate” in finding the vets permanent housing, Holder said.
“This is helpful because most residents don’t have any family. We used to have younger veterans, but most are now in their 50’s and 60’s.”
Then he thanked the Link team for the work they were about to put in, and the students set out filling boxes with games, snacks and toiletries.
Bekkedahl said after they finished at Jaycee Hall they were continuing their service by going to a pre-school, the Explorer Academy (formerly Head Start), Community Hope and a nursing home, with the day cumulating in a campus cleanup.  

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