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South Albany High School senior Riley Swanson spent Dec. 18 packing 22 care packages for homeless students connected with South. It's her second year with the "Spread the Love" care package project.

Swanson worked with South Albany to create packages for students under the federal McKinney-Vento Act, which governs how schools work with homeless students. The act defines “homeless” as students who lack a fixed, regular and adequate nighttime residence, which includes families sharing living quarters with other families because of loss or economic hardship, as well as those staying in cars, parks, motels, campgrounds or emergency shelters.

"We had so many donations from families, friends, and people from all over the community including Albany First Assembly Church, Burgerville, and The Mennonite Village. The donations received this year were able to completely fill each of the boxes so that the boys and girls received all the necessities and a little more to make them smile," Swanson said.

Swanson packed boxes with blankets, personal hygiene items, socks and winter clothing, among other items.

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"This year more money was donated to Spread the Love so I was able to go out and personally buy items for these students, making it even more special," she said.

Swanson said she plans to expand "Spread the Love" to Valentine's Day because of the number of donations.

"This project is my passion and I strive to continue helping students that are less fortunate in high school," she said. "After I graduate, I hope to take the project with me and continue it myself."

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