Senior class forgoes Homecoming float for fire relief

By: 
CHRIS MCCONNELL
Outlook staff writer
Danae  Filpula-Ankney

The Laurel High School class of 2018 is forgoing a float in this year’s Homecoming parade, Friday at 4:30 p.m. on the normal parade route, instead using their time and resources to raise money for fire relief efforts in Montana.
Laurel senior class president, Danae Filpula-Ankney said, “The senior class is working together to make a local impact.”
At the annual class meeting for seniors, she and student body president Austin Amestoy explored an alternative Homecoming activity that would benefit people experiencing hardship as a result of a natural disaster.
“We talked with our advisors and they mentioned raising money for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts,” she said.
Although the hurricanes in the South are devastating, Montana is experiencing it’s own catastrophe and one of the worst fire seasons on record.
Filpula–Ankney said she wanted to contribute to something that helped Montanans directly. With more than a million acres burned in Montana so far this year, she felt the class of 2018 could have the most impact if they focused their efforts on fire relief. While she was researching various relief fundraisers, she learned the Montana Stockgrowers Association was collecting donations to help farmers and ranchers devastated by the Lodgepole Complex Fire northwest of Billings. The fire burned nearly 300,000 acres and destroyed more than a dozen homes including more than a thousand miles of fencing. Farmers and ranchers are struggling to feed their livestock, and due to the high cost of transporting hay they are relying on donations and assistance from various agencies.
Kori Anderson, manager of communications for Montana Stockgrowers Association headquarters in Helena, said they are working with the Montana Department of Agriculture to assist ranchers affected by the Lodgepole Complex fire. Anderson said the money raised by Laurel’s senior class will aid farmers and ranchers by bringing hay and fencing materials to those in need.
Filpula–Ankney said that although the senior class contribution isn’t much, she hopes their fundraising efforts this week will give a boost to the final total.
“We have $300 right now, which is the senior class contribution, plus what we can raise this week,” she said.
Members of the class of 2018 will be collecting donations at tonight’s volleyball match, as well as during the Homecoming parade and football game.
“We will have a table set up at the entrance to the homecoming football game during the first half. At halftime we will count all the money then announce our fundraising totals in the third or fourth quarter,” she said.
Filpula-Ankney said donations can also be left with Becky Wommack in the high school office, or they can be mailed to the high school.
In a school-wide email, Filpula-Ankney concluded, “The class of 2018 invites you to help us as we strive to provide […] relief for the disastrous fire season 2017 has brought us so far. We can make a difference–together!”
“We are so impressed by the selflessness exhibited by the Senior Class at Laurel High School. The funds raised by these students will go to support the ranchers affected by fires across the state. Again, a thank you to these students for supporting the future of Montana,” Anderson wrote in an email to the Outlook.

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