Totally Giving Back

Totally Giving Back: Students unite for hurricane relief

Hurricane Relief Collage Hurricane Relief Collage

Area students filled with compassion and patriotism are selling T-shirts to raise money for victims of hurricanes Harvey and Irma.* The money being raised is earmarked for the American Red Cross.

The 50-plus high school students from four Tri Star Career Compact programs are banding together for the effort that began last fall. The T-shirts, produced by Totally Promotional, are being sold by Tri Star students and at area businesses. The kids also are accepting cash donations.

Several of the teens, who hail from nine local school districts, have friends and relatives who were affected by the monster hurricanes in Texas and Florida.

“One of my best friends was in the path of hurricane Irma,” said New Knoxville High School senior Jared Naviello, who attends Tri Star's Interactive Media program.

Stepping up … again

The T-shirt fundraiser is similar to another fundraiser that Tri Star students held after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the Gulf Coast area in 2005.

“Having seen the devastation of Harvey and the severity of Irma ... we decided now was the time to take action again,” said Ryan Turnmire, instructor for the Tri Star Graphic Communications program.

Turnmire, on behalf of all Tri Star instructors and facilitators, praised the students for their dedication to helping others.

“We are extremely proud to see these students step up and take initiative in working to do good in the world,” he said. “Watching this diverse group of students from different schools, different backgrounds, come together and focus on one problem, come up with so many good ideas, and, together create one product that represents a light in darkness, a oneness we all share, is a truly awe-inspiring adventure.”

The students are members of Early Childhood Development, Graphic Communications, Health Information Technology and Interactive Media programs at Tri Star. Turnmire said they also are members of Business Professionals of America, FCCLA, or SkillsUSA student organizations, and are dedicated to building professional leadership skills and working to better the communities in which we all live and work.

Tri Star's youth speak out

The students had this to say about the fundraiser to assist hurricane victims:

“We are coming together as a building to raise money for the people and animals affected by the hurricanes.” — Ashley Bowers, New Bremen High School senior, Early Childhood Education

“I know many people who have family or friends living in Texas and Florida, including myself.” — Ally Moore, St. Marys Memorial High School senior, Health Information Technology

“We are the United States of America. If one of us is hurting, we are all hurting.” — Tyler Wolters, Marion Local High School senior, Health Information Technology

“I have family down in Florida that's been affected. I'd love to help people that are suffering because of the hurricane.” — Heather Huddleston, New Bremen High School junior, Health Information Technology

“This project is a chance to prove that high schools can come together to do something for a really good cause.” — Lillie Bolenbaugh, Celina High School junior, Graphic Communications

“It's just the right thing to do.” — Harry Kaiser, Celina High School junior, Interactive Media

“It makes me feel good to know I am helping people … it gives me hope that there is still good in the world.” — Olivia Frilling, St. Marys Memorial High School junior, Early Childhood Education

“This is important to me since I cannot be there to actively help.” — Haley Niemeyer, New Knoxville High School senior, Graphic Communications

“... there were many people impacted by the hurricanes and they need as much help as they can get.” — Sammy Kuck, New Bremen High School senior, Graphic Communications

“I want to help the families that (were) dramatically impacted by hurricane Harvey and Irma. I also want to make a difference in people's lives.” — Tara Springer, New Bremen High School senior, Graphic Communications

“Caring can always help in a bad situation.” — Sara Champagne, New Bremen High School senior, Graphic Communications

“This project gave us Tri Star students an opportunity to help … . By doing this, I hope others are motivated to contribute.” — Sophia DiSalvo, Celina High School senior, Interactive Media

“It is important that we all stand together and give hope to those who lost everything.” — Ashley Paul, New Bremen High School senior, Graphic Communications

“Small towns like us can make a big change!” — Hope Bruggeman, St. Henry High School senior, Graphic Communications

“I have a chance to help people who need it most.” — Elizabeth Guess, St. Marys Memorial High School senior, Early Childhood Education

Students give T-shirts a personal touch

The students teamed up to create the T-shirt design. The navy-blue shirts feature the word "HOPE" on the front, with the “o” replaced by a hurricane symbol in red and white. The combined colors purposely mimmick the U.S. flag. The back of the T-shirts states "Hurricane Relief 2017" and bears the names of all nine school districts that partner with Tri Star.

For more information about the project or the Tri Star programs, call the Tri Star office at 419-586-7060 or go to

Totally Giving Back is a program supported by and its staff to help individuals and groups in need. We believe it is important to give back to our local communities and spread hope to others around the world.

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