By Marielle Mohs

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – We are three weeks away from Xcel Energy’s Day of Service, and WCCO-TV is one of the participating sponsors. There are 60 projects across Minnesota that need volunteers.

Sheliyah’s favorite part of her day is having meaningful conversations with the volunteers who come in to work side by side with her. Commingling teens with professional adults is one of the goals of Cookie Cart in north Minneapolis and St. Paul.

“The most important thing is giving young people a safe and positive place to learn productive skills and to connect with positive adults,” said Matt Halley, executive director of Cookie Cart.

Cookie Cart gives teens their first paying job. On Xcel Energy’s Day of Service, Cookie Cart hopes a new variety of professionals will help bake and impart career advice. Volunteers will put on hairnets and then scoop dough, getting cookies ready to bake.

The second volunteer project for Xcel’s Day of Service is with Great River Greening at the nature preserve in Chanhassen. Volunteers will plant wildflowers. The peaceful nature preserve in a popular suburb deserves a lot of credit.

“These kind of wetlands are going to hold back that water, so it’s not going to flood down the Mississippi River right away,” said Brad Gordon, an ecologist with Green River Greening.

Great River Greening needs the number of volunteers to grow so the space can do the same.

“They’re going to plant these prairie seed nurseries, so they’re going to be restoring the habitat, the ecosystem here,” Gordon said.

This the first year in the history of Xcel Energy’s Day of Service it has been opened to the public to participate.

“One of our core values as a company is connection, and that connection extends into our communities,” said Emily Ahachich, with Xcel Energy Minnesota.

There are projects for all ages, not just adults, in 30 cities throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin. To sign up, visit the Xcel Energy website.

Marielle Mohs