When students from St. Pius/St. Leo Catholic School heard about the hurricanes in the South last year, they were concerned. They took up a collection and sent funds to a couple of hard-hit areas.

This year, when floods devastated parts of eastern and central Nebraska and southwest Iowa, they wanted to help again.

“It was just such a surprise,” said Tiffany Herfordt, an eighth-grade science teacher. “They said, ‘It’s the same things, (now) happening to our neighbors.’ ”

Eighth-graders led the way, brainstorming what to do and narrowing down whom they wanted to help.

“We made a list and pro-conned it, then decided by vote,” Herfordt said.

They chose four charities:

» The community of Valley, Nebraska, because a former St. Pius priest, the Rev. Lloyd Gnirk, is now the pastor of St. John’s there.

» Muddy Paws Second Chance Rescue, because they wanted to help pets.

» Hooves and Paws Rescue of the Heartland, because they had heard stories about whole herds of cattle being washed away and wanted to help livestock.

» The Salvation Army.

The eighth-graders first raised $2,700 on a dress-down day, an event that allows them to eschew uniforms for a $1 donation. That’s three times more than those days typically raise, Herfordt said.

Last week, they launched a freewill donation drive with a goal of $500. If they reach it, Principal Cory Sepich has agreed to serve lunch wearing whatever costume the eighth grade chooses, and an anonymous donor will match that amount. They had $255 by the end of the school day on Friday, and have until the end of Monday to raise the rest.

Fourth-graders at the school, at 69th and Blondo Streets, are collecting work gloves, disposable gloves and hand sanitizer and are working with the eighth-graders to pack them for transport to a collection site at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Eighth-graders wanted something they could do with their hands, Herfordt said, and that seemed like a worthy chore. She was also looking for some physical work they could do off school premises.

Their final fundraiser will be a movie night for seventh- and eighth-graders close to the end of the school year. Admission fees will be donated to flood relief.

The teacher is proud of the students’ hard work, generosity and initiative.

“This is really student-led,” Herfordt said. “I’m just the liaison.”

‘Come From Away’ raises $75,000 for flood relief

It turns out that the folks behind Broadway’s “Come From Away” are as kind and generous as the people the musical portrays.

The Tony Award-winning show is about Canadians who helped 7,000 air passengers who were stranded in Newfoundland after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The show’s national tour stopped in Omaha last month right after devastating flooding in the area.

That prompted people associated with the show to raise funds for flood relief. They recently presented $75,000 to the American Red Cross of Nebraska and Southwest Iowa.

Cast and crew members collected donations at the Orpheum Theater after each performance in the weeklong run.

“Our audience members contributed more than $40,000,” said Joan Squires, president of Omaha Performing Arts, the organization that brings Broadway shows to Omaha. “That generous amount speaks to the profound kindness of those living in our region.”

The show’s producers also kicked in, donating $1 from each ticket sold. Broadway Across America joined the effort.

“We were deeply concerned about what happened in this region from the recent flooding and felt that the messages of our show could be reflected in helping with the relief,” said Sue Frost, one of the “Come From Away” producers.

Betsie covers a little bit of everything for The World-Herald's Living section, including theater, religion and anything else that might need attention. Phone: 402-444-1267.

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