Cassie Kunselman, 15, teaches 7-year-old Jaelyn Fox some cheer techniques during a practice on the athletic fields at Jennings Park in Marysville. Kunselman’s group is part of the Marysville Cheer Leading Association, and she has earned a varsity letter for community service from United Way of Snohomish County. (Dan Bates / The Herald).

United Way gives students varsity letters for community service

This is part of The Daily Herald’s annual report on charity in Snohomish County. Complete list of stories

MARYSVILLE — Cheerleaders in training gather around Cassandra “Cassie” Kunselman. It’s not quite football season, but the girls are eager to practice cheers the 15-year-old taught them.

With laughter and energy in their voices, the kids shout out a cheer: “We wanna hot dog, we wanna Coke, we wanna touchdown, that’s no joke.”

Alawna Schweitzberger, 11, and 7-year-olds Amaya Villalobo and Jaelyn Fox are getting ready to cheer this fall in support of Marysville Youth Football League players.

Cassie, a sophomore at Marysville Getchell International School of Communications, is a volunteer cheer coach with the Marysville Junior Cheerleading Association. Helping younger girls learn to cheer is a fun way to spend a balmy summer evening in Marysville’s Jennings Memorial Park.

The teen’s volunteer hours may also help her to once again earn a Varsity Letter in Community Service. Cassie was one of more than 80 Snohomish County high school students recognized this past school year with a varsity letter for volunteerism.

For generations a symbol of achievement for student athletes, a varsity letter can now be a badge of honor designating a teen with a heart for helping others.

United Way of Snohomish County and local school districts work in partnership so that students can earn a Varsity Letter in Community Service. The program was launched locally in 2012, and is underway nationwide through other United Way organizations.

To earn a the varsity letter, students are required to complete at least 145 hours of qualified volunteer work and meet other criteria, including maintaining a 2.0 grade point average or better. The hours can’t include time spent on classwork or other graduation requirements.

For Cassie and others working toward next year’s letter, hours must be completed between April 1, 2016, and March 31, 2017. An application fee of $15 helps cover costs for the cloth letters and award packets, but students may contact United Way if they can’t afford the fee. Donors are welcome to sponsor one or more student letters.

Danielle Kunselman, Cassie’s mom, said her daughter has been doing volunteer work since fourth grade. “I’m just the taxi driver,” said Danielle Kunselman, who was at the park to watch cheerleading practice.

Codi Villalobos, Amaya’s mom, is vice president of the Marysville Junior Cheerleading Association and a cheer coach. More than 80 girls, ages 5 to 13, are involved in the program, she said.

Through her volunteer work, Cassie Kunselman has also been awarded a President’s Volunteer Service Award, a national recognition of volunteerism, for five years running.

“I mostly volunteer with kids,” she said. “I love connecting with them, and seeing the smiles on their faces.”

Cassie Kunselman said her hours as a volunteer cheer coach will count toward a varsity letter. So too will her service with children through the annual Lake Stevens Aquafest. In 2015, she served as an Aquafest community service queen, and this year she’s an Aquafest junior ambassador.

“It’s a community service pageant. That’s part of everything we do — speaking in front of people, giving back to the community, working with kids — all year around,” she said.

With Aquafest, Cassie said she participated in a “reading with royalty” program at Marysville elementary schools. She picked potatoes to help a homeless shelter, and gathered school supplies for a Volunteers of America program to give backpacks to students in need.

Chris Fox, Jaelyn’s mother, said her daughter “sticks with cheerleading because of Cassie — she loves Cassie.”

“And now Jaelyn is interested in volunteer work,” Fox said.

Julie Muhlstein: 425-339-3460; jmuhlstein@heraldnet.com.

How to letter in community service

United Way of Snohomish County and area school districts team up to recognize high school students with a Varsity Letter in Community Service. To earn the letter, students must complete 145 volunteer hours in a calendar year and meet other criteria. Volunteer activities must be verifiable. Students must have at least a 2.0 grade point average.

A $15 application fee helps cover costs for the patches and award packets. Those unable to pay may contact Jessica at 425-374-5530 or jessica.gaitan@uwsc.org.

To sponsor a student, send a check, payable to United Way of Snohomish County, to 3120 McDougall Ave. Ste. 200, Everett, WA 98201, Attn: Varsity Letter.

Information: www.uwsc.org/varsityletter

United Way of Snohomish County recognized the following students with a Varsity Letter in Community Service this year:

Saara Alyssa Abdalkhani, Henry M. Jackson High School

Jaclyn Marie Amrine, Snohomish High School

Isabel Grace Jarns Anderson, Snohomish High School

Jessamine Anderson, Snohomish High School

Alexandra Ash, Sky Valley Education Center

Dylan Ash, Sky Valley Education Center

Jeremy Ash, Sky Valley Education Center

Riley Alan Bennett, Snohomish High School

Amber Blackwood, Lakewood High School

Corrine Booth, Sky Valley Education Center

Lydia Ann Borstad, Sky Valley Education Center

Taya Leanne Boston, Everett High School

Elizabeth Jean Casper, Everett High School

Angela Mae Alfaro Castro, Marysville Getchell High School

Connor Cheney, Sky Valley Education Center

Alexandra Anne Cizek, Cascade High School

Valeria Viviana Cornejo, Cascade High School

Samantha Josephine Coughlan, Everett High School

Madison Rae Cox, Lakewood High School

John L. Cramer Jr., Lake Stevens High School

Christina Marie Deierling, Snohomish High School

Inderkamal Kaur Deol, Marysville Getchell High School

Aidan Emmons, Sky Valley Education Center

Aline Escoto, Snohomish High School

Allyson Farstad, Sky Valley Education Center

Alexander Gim, Henry M. Jackson High School

Rumneet Kaur Grewal, Mariner High School

Keely Hall, Lakewood High School

Eryn Hall, Marysville Pilchuck High School

Caitlyn Colleen Hill, Stanwood High School

Emily Hoot, Marysville Getchell High School

Micah Hoot, Marysville Getchell High School

Adam Vincent Ivelia, Snohomish High School

Reese Patrick Ernest Jones, Snohomish High School

Claire Kelly, Henry M. Jackson High School

Tiasa Kim, Kamiak High School

Mary Elizabeth Ann Knell, Edmonds-Woodway High School

Sheyenne Kay Koen, Granite Falls High School

Cassandra Rae Kunselman, Marysville Getchell High School

Ashish Labroo, Henry M. Jackson High School

Sebin Lee, Edmonds-Woodway High School

Hyunkyoung Jennifer Lee, Meadowdale High School

Trevor Courtney Lee, Sky Valley Education Center

Janelle Jielin Li, Marysville Getchell High School

Lauren Jeanne Little, Edmonds-Woodway High School

Anthony London, Mariner High School

Sophia Catherine Maggio, Everett High School

Aaron Maldonado, Granite Falls High School

Mitchell Scott Morris, Cascade High School

Nathan Phillip Ness, Everett High School

John Nguyen, Marysville Getchell High School

Nathan Nicholson, Snohomish High School

Molly Olson, Henry M. Jackson High School

Emily Parry, Sky Valley Education Center

Natalie Parry, Sky Valley Education Center

Gerardine Marie Pascual, Marysville Getchell High School

Victoria Tylyn Philp, Mariner High School

Jamie Phan Phung, Marysville Getchell High School

Kaitlynn Phung, Marysville Getchell High School

Savannah Nicole Pratt, Lake Stevens High School

Kyla Bersabe Pritzl, Everett High School

Isabelle Quinn, Edmonds-Woodway High School

Addison Olivia Rackowitz, Lakewood High School

James Ramirez, Cascade High School

Diana Reiman, Henry M. Jackson High School

Julia Remlinger, Snohomish High School

Trayana Rogers, Everett High School

Danielle Nicole Scanes, Everett High School

Dylan Michael Scanes, Everett High School

Frances Scott-Weis, Sky Valley Education Center

Benjamin Seaberg, Everett High School

Nathan John Sherman, Sky Valley Education Center

Natalie Simek, Henry M. Jackson High School

Kayla Slaven, Henry M. Jackson High School

Rachel Elizabeth Stockwell, Sky Valley Education Center

Teagan Tamarra, Snohomish High School

Siena Madeline Utt, Everett High School

Dania Vasquez, Marysville Getchell High School

Edna Marie Vetter, Cascade High School

Alexandria Visocky, Everett High School

Shannon Marie White, Sky Valley Education Center

Eleanor Wilde, Marysville Pilchuck High School

Snohomish County Gives 2016

Snohomish County nonprofits: Where to give in 2016

Meals on Wheels is ‘a godsend’ for more than 1,100 in county

Camp Erin in Stanwood offers comfort for grieving children

Mari’s Place gives kids a reason to stay and play

Community Foundation: New name, same critical mission

Volunteers are the heart and soul of the Red Cross

Boeing employees fund helps nonprofits make a difference

Casino Road academy helps immigrants with English

Catholic charity quietly fights homelessness

Everett Museum of History seeks a forever home

United Way gives students varsity letters in community service

Edmonds nonprofit helps homeless children and families

Upcoming Snohomish County nonprofit fundraising events

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