Fifth-graders from Cathedral School, Superior, haul boxes onto a Florida-bound truck Dec. 15. The students’ semester-long service learning project concluded with a visit from Bishop James P. Powers, who blessed the truck carrying donations to hurricane victims. (Submitted photo)

Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

Since September, fifth-graders from Cathedral School, Superior, have been collecting donations and fundraising to help hurricane victims in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico.

With help from two Superior public schools — Cooper Elementary and Four Corners Elementary — the class collected food, clothing, personal care products and stuffed animals, among other things, and raised money to defray shipping costs.

They finally wrapped up the project Dec. 15, when Halvor Lines, a Superior-based trucking company, hauled the donations to Florida. Some of the boxes were bound for Texas, but most will be distributed to Puerto Ricans in need.

After students moved the 78 boxes onboard, Bishop James P. Powers blessed the truck.

“The hard work and dedication of the Cathedral School students and faculty are both remarkable and touching. It is a privilege to carry their donations on their way to their final destination,” Jon Vinje, company president and CEO, said in a statement.

Amber Nielsen teaches the fifth-grade class. Born in Texas, Nielsen said her father also spent winters there, so she has a strong affection for the state.
“It’s where my heart is, I guess you can say,” she added.

Nielsen said she chose the service-learning project for her students because she knew they’d learn more from the disaster than they could “from any textbook.”

Throughout the semester, she connected the project to each of their academic subjects — students learned about hurricane weather patterns in science class, for example — and she also emphasized the project’s character-building merits.

“This has been an amazing experience for the students and a great lesson in serving those who are struggling,” she said. “They’ve learned that everything can change in a minute. They’ve learned humbleness and generosity and modesty, selflessness.”

For their fundraising projects, students held a bake sale after Superior’s Halloween Spooktacular, which raised $400, and brought in more than $70 with an in-school guessing game fundraiser.

Of all the fundraising and planning they did during the semester-long project, fifth-grader Chloe Neylon most enjoyed the bake sale.

“We pulled a wagon in the Spooktacular parade, and it was raining, and we all got soaking wet, and it was still a really good turnout, and it was really fun to walk in,” she said.

Landon Holsclaw, her classmate, liked helping people and packing boxes. He wasn’t a big fan of folding the more than 1,300 items of clothing.

“None of them enjoyed folding,” Nielsen observed. They’ve learned how much work laundry is, she said.

On the academic side, learning about hurricanes in science class most interested Gabryel Olson, and she was also struck by the breadth of the destruction.

“It’s just really hard to see how people go through this stuff,” she said.