Students at Heartland Community Schools in Henderson, Nebraska choose a cause to raise money for and this year they’ve reached out to help pay for repairs at a cemetery that was vandalized last summer.
"I was encouraging them to find a cause that they care about and we had brainstormed and we were struggling," said teacher Nora Ohrt. That changed when students learned about dozens of headstones being vandalized at nearby Farmers Valley Cemetery.
A man who lives nearby discovered the damage on August 20th. Nearly 50 gravestones had been pushed over and some had been damaged beyond repair. Members of the cemetery association said it would cost as much as $40,000 to repair the damage.
The cemetery was established in 1876 along the banks of the Big Blue River. "When they were in fourth grade they learned about the cemetery, they visited it and studied about the people who were buried there," said former elementary school teacher Suzanne Ratzlaff.
"It was just going to be a few cake raffles and kind of just how much we could get was good," said National Honors Society member Tierney Casper. The Henderson State Bank agreed to match what they raise up to $10,000 by the end of the school year.
Larry Carlson of the Farmers Valley Cemetery Association appreciates the support. "We've had a very good response, but we have a long way to go.”
Casper agrees, but says she's up for the challenge. "I think we'll get it. We've been working hard and we have a lot of good ideas for fundraisers, so I think we're good.”
Eighteen-year-old Robert Kelly Jr. of Saronville, Nebraska, charged with felony criminal mischief in the case, plead not guilty on Friday. His trial has been scheduled for December.