Laura Cummings is the latest honoree of Hutchinson Connect’s Kind Neighbor Spotlight, a recognition that allows local residents to nominate “unsung” volunteers.

Cummings, a Bemidji native, moved to Hutchinson to attend Maplewood Academy about 20 years ago. She was nominated by Evie and Evan Swanson.

“Evan and I have known her since she was a student in the early 2000s when she was especially timid and quiet, but have only continued to have more respect for her character as we have seen her develop into an extremely helpful and giving member of the community,” Evie Swanson wrote. “She is always the first to volunteer wherever she finds a need.”

Cummings’ list of volunteer involvements is long. At Maplewood Academy, she’s headed up the Adopt a Highway student cleanup effort along State Highway 22. She’s organized students to go into the community to collect food donations for the McLeod Emergency Food Shelf. For the school’s Community Service Day, she’s recruited students to help residents needing help with yardwork such as raking leaves. An ardent canoeist, she belongs to Friends of the Boundary Waters and has taken Maplewood students to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area. She leads the community’s Operation Christmas Child, and has helped with local efforts for Feed My Starving Children. Through Common Cup Ministry, she helps with coat collections and fills children’s backpacks with food.

During the height of the pandemic, she went beyond her official duties as Maplewood Academy’s registrar. For example, she was known for stopping at students’ homes to deliver treats, yearbooks and offer words of encouragement.

Swanson wrote that Cummings “always goes above and beyond what is expected of her. I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face as well as a cheery kind greeting for everyone.”

Reprinted with permission from the Hutchinson Leader