I-S students give back to community
By Holly Neumann
Summer school students at Iola-Scandinavia Elementary School are learning the importance of giving back to their community.
Hayli Breyhan, who teaches a service-learning class, said students were asked to come up with their own projects.
Two of the students, Faith Thompson and Brylee Jueds, chose the Iola and Rural Fire Department.
“The girls were appreciative of what the firefighters do,” said Breyhan. “They wanted to see what they could do to help.”
They then wrote a letter to Faith’s father who serves on the department:
Dear Josh Thompson,
We are working on a project in summer school and we wanted to ask you do you ever need help cleaning your fire trucks cause we would be glad to help to help some day. We saw a sign saying you needed more people to come and help you so we are going to put up posters to help encourage people to join the fire department. We are going to put out donation jars to raise money for the fire department.
From Iola School,
Brylee and Faith
The students, along with their other classmates, were invited to come and help wash the firetrucks at the station.
“I think it’s awesome that they asked to help,” said Fire Chief Jim Aanstad. “When Josh first shared the letter, it kind of gave me goose bumps.”
After learning that the department was also in need of volunteer firefighters, the students also agreed to make posters to help get the word out.
“Staffing is huge issue right now on our department,” said Aanstad. “Not only for our department, but nation-wide. People are just not volunteering for things like this anymore. Maybe this will help strike someone’s interest and they will want to become a member of our department.”
The kids seemed to enjoy being involved.
“This is exciting,” said fifth grader Kylee Noack. “I hope people will think about coming here to volunteer their time.”
“I like doing stuff like this,” added 6th grader Morgan Richter. “I think it’s important to help because they do so much for us. They save people’s lives. Everyone should be involved in their community in some way. Every little thing helps.”
“They are usually the ones that are helping everyone,” said Olivia Thiel, fourth grade. “It is nice to help them once in a while too. I think more people need to become firefighter too. It helps our community.”
Breyhan could not be prouder of her students.
“This teaches them civic responsibility and shows that they care about others,” she said. “They are making a difference and learning how to be a good citizen of their community.”
Firefighter Josh Thompson said he cannot even begin to express how important this project was.
“I was shocked to see the letter,” he said. “I think the impact was huge. It helps get the word out that this is not a closed off place. We are all a big family up here.”
He expressed how important fire departments are to their communities.
“It’s beyond huge all together,” he said. “We are not just about saving people and putting out fires. Were about keeping the community involved and held together. And we need more help. The more, the merrier.”
He encourages community members that have an interest to give it a chance.
“Talk to someone who has done it,” he said. “See the ins and outs of it and see how much of a family aspect it really is.”
Anyone interested in joining the department can call 715-445-2515.