RIVER FALLS — As pandemic precautions urged folks to stay apart, three Devin Lane girls worked to keep their neighbors connected and informed.
Ashlynn Andrews and Lily Baldini, both 9 years old, and Evie Jenkins, who turns 10 this month, started their weekly publication — now monthly due to the busy holiday season — at the end of August. The one-page newspaper covers updates on the block in southwest River Falls near Rocky Branch Elementary School, such as interviews with new neighbors and announcements of new pets.
But they didn’t stop there. The girls also organized and promoted a Halloween parade, collected donations for the food shelf around Thanksgiving and, most recently, went Christmas caroling to raise money again for the food shelf.
“It has been incredibly rewarding to watch the girls organize, carefully plan and set into action the different ways to collect donations,” said Sarah Jenkins, Evie’s mother. She and the other mothers, Holly Andrews and Candi Baldini, said they were proud to see their children explore their entrepreneurial side while giving back to the community.
The Star-Observer corresponded with the families by email to learn more about the girls’ motivation and goals. Here’s what they wrote:
Star-Observer: It sounds like you've been busy this year! Was it fun starting your own newspaper?
Evie: It was very, very fun to start a newspaper.
Ashlynn: Yes, because it's fun walking around and passing the paper out.
S-O: Why is it important for neighbors to keep informed?
Lily: Because they can know if something happens bad or good.
Ashlynn: We like it because people are bored during COVID-19.
Evie: We really just like to make people happy and for them to know what is going on in the world.
S-O: Would you like to continue being journalists when you grow up?
Ashlynn: Maybe, I don't really know what I'm going to do when I'm older.
Lily: Maybe, it would depend.
Evie: I don't know, I really want to be a Rockettes dancer.
S-O: You've handed out candy on Halloween and collected donations for the food shelf — what inspired you to give back to the community?
Lily: Helping and giving so people are not poor so much.
Ashlynn: Well, we always want to help.
S-O: What advice do you have for people all over the city to follow your example?
Evie: If you want to give, put yourself out there and find people or a cause to donate to and they might help you back.
Ashlynn: So they can give and follow their dreams like us.