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1-R students raise money to help families impacted by the natural disaster

1-R students raise money to help families impacted by the natural disaster
By Robert Pore  Apr 3, 2019 Updated 6 min ago  
The flooding and blizzard that hit Nebraska last month impacted thousands of families across the state, including students at 1-R School in rural Hall County.
But despite the tragedy that impacted many of the students’ families, it didn’t stop them from reaching out and helping others dealing with the natural disaster.
On Wednesday, the 1-R student council presented the Heartland United Way two gift cards totaling more than $1,000. That money, raised by the students, will go to help area families who were impacted by the flooding and blizzards.
To raise the money, the students “bought” special privileges each day for $1. For example, they wore hats, chewed gum, used phones during lunch, had extra recesses and wore pajamas. Teachers at the school joined the cause and paid to wear jeans one day.
The 186 1-R students raised $1,071, which averaged about $5 per student.
“This is especially meaningful as some of the 1-R kids are also dealing with effects of flooding on their livestock and farms,” said Karen Rathke, president of the Heartland United Way.
According to Zach Mader, a 1-R seventh-grader, kids and families donated money, along with buying the special privileges. Mader bought $5 worth of special privileges during the five-day fundraiser. He gave $20 from his allowance to the cause.
He said his family lost cattle during the flooding and blizzard conditions. Also, the floodwaters got into the family’s septic tank and backed into their house.
Mader’s family wasn’t alone. The school is a mix of rural and urban students. Many of the families of the students suffered property damage to their homes and farms from the flooding and loss of livestock due to the blizzard.
But still, the students, many using their allowance money, donated to help others impacted by the natural disaster.
“We figured it was a good thing to do,” Mader said.
Wyatt Gildersleeve, an eighth-grader, also donated to the cause. Both Gildersleeve and Mader are members of the student council. Many of the older students used the special privileges they bought to use their cellphones during the lunch period.
“We wanted to help others,” Gildersleeve said.
Jacey McGowan, who is a paraeducator at the school along with being the student council adviser, said students have organized in the past to raise money for special causes in the community, such as Hope Harbor.
Gildersleeve said these fundraising projects help the students to be involved in their community by reaching out and helping others in need.
“The student council did all the work,” McGowan said. “They put other people first by coming together to reach a common goal.”
Rathke told the members of the student council how much their donation means to the community. For some families, the floodwaters came quick, giving them little time to protect their property.
The natural disaster not only caused property damage and a loss of income for many families, but also had a psychological impact on people, especially children, she said.
“It happened so fast, and it was very scary for them,” Rathke said.
For some families, the floodwaters rose overnight, while the children were sleeping, and they had their parents wake them so they could leave their homes safely.
For one child, Rathke said, going through the disaster has caused them to be afraid to sleep at night, scared of what the morning might bring.
“They saw so much terror and damage,” she said.
Rathke said many adults can process the aftermath of a natural disaster, but for a young child, what happened is a very frightening experience, especially when they see the fear on their parents’ faces and in their voices and actions.
She told the students what they did in raising the money will make a difference in another person’s life.
“If you reach out and tell someone you may not know that you care about them, that warms their soul,” Rathke said. “Thank you for what you did and the time it took. It is important for everyone to do what they can to give back.”