As Platte River water swept across much of eastern Nebraska last month, wreaking havoc in Fremont and the surrounding communities, Bennington Public Schools found itself feeling fortunate.
“We saw all of the tragic and historic results of flooding, and Bennington Public Schools directly was not involved, and fortunately so,” said Bennington Superintendent Terry Haack. “But certainly our neighbors were.”
So Bennington Public Schools decided to take action — not for its own students, but for those attending school districts in areas that are still recovering. They started a drive, seeking monetary donations from the community of Bennington.
They set a “modest” goal to raise $10,000 for communities in the area, Haack said.
They raised $25,000.
On Wednesday, the fruit of those efforts arrived in Fremont as Bennington school officials presented Fremont Public School officials with a check for $10,000 to help students and their families with flood relief. Another $10,000 would go to D.C. West in Valley and another $5,000 would go to Arlington Public Schools.
The Fremont Public Schools Foundation is putting the money into a school supplies flood relief fund that it had previously established with the Fremont Education Association. It will remain there until it becomes apparent what the biggest needs for students in a post-flood Fremont, according to Fremont Public Schools Foundation Executive Director Joe Sajevic.
“I think we’re going to wait for a little while and find out what the true needs are and then we’ll address them as they come in,” Sajevic said.
That fund had already had a significant amount of money that came from donations within the Fremont community, as well as a $1,000 matching grant from the Foundation.
Sajevic said that Fremont Public Schools has seen generosity from all over — he recently came into his office to find a box from a woman in Wyoming, filled with toys and a note: “Please give these to children in need of a smile.”
“You never know, until you need it, how good people are. The generosity of the Fremont people is obvious from all the supplies and things that have come in, as well as people around the area, including the Bennington people,” Sajevic said. “It’s really heartwarming.”
For Bennington, the decision to help out fellow school districts in need was an easy one, Haack said.
“It is certainly, probably, a mission of all of us to take care of students, and that goes beyond those students we’re directly responsible for,” Haack said. “So when you see other students, other communities in need, you want to make sure that they’re taken care of as well. I think that’s the nature of educators, to make sure that a kid, regardless of where they’re at, is cared for.”