CLINTON —The Leo Clubs at Clinton's middle school and high school complete five or six service projects each month.
This week, Clinton's firefighters are their priority.
"We're making firefighter ribbons," eighth-grader Ashtyn Dohrn, president of the Clinton Middle School Leos, said Wednesday morning.
The black and red ribbons the size of small lapel pins will be given to the Clinton Fire Department before the public funeral for Lt. Eric Hosette on Saturday. The ribbons can be distributed there or wherever the CFD chooses, Dohrn said.
The Leos also will donate bottles of water and handmade cards to the fire department. The cards are being made by some middle school students during art classes.
"They talk about how thankful we are for what they do for us," Dohrn said.
The middle school has about 50 Leos, said Emma Folland, one of the advisers. They'd already attached safety pins to 600 tiny ribbons by early Wednesday morning. Leos have worked on the project during their lunches, their response-intervention time and before school, she said.
The Leos usually meet on Fridays, said Dohrn, but after this weekend's fire and explosion at Clinton's Archer Daniels Midland plant, which resulted in Hosette's death and the critical injury of Clinton firefighter Adam Cain, students initiated a service project before their regular meeting.
"We told them there was a service project we needed help with, and they showed up," Folland said.
The Leos started cutting ribbon and attaching safety pins to them Tuesday morning, said Leo member Riley Ottens.
The project began with a suggestion from a police officer Sunday.
"We got a text from a police officer who gave us the money to make the ribbons," Dohrn said.
That officer was Ottens' father, Dean, who is Cain's cousin, Folland said. Ottens offered to provide funds for supplies for the Leo project, and the project became a school-wide outpouring of support.
"I think people just want to be there for each other, said Dohrn.
The death of a firefighter is different from other deaths that occur every day, Folland said.
"They're every day heroes," she said. "The average people wouldn't run in a burning building."
"We don't expect these things to happen. It doesn't happen every day," Ottens added.
Leo Club is a community service group that hosts fundraisers to support projects such as providing meals for families in need and toys for underprivileged children during the holidays, Dohrn said.
Leo Clubs are affiliated with Lions Clubs International. The high school's Leo Club started two years ago, Folland said. The middle school started its club last year.