Seeley Swan Pathfinder -

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By Andi Bourne
Pathfinder 

SLE Students Pay It Forward

 

Patti Bartlett Gladstone

Seeley Lake Elementary Junior High students loading the back of Bartlett Gladstone's pickup with donations they brought.

SEELEY LAKE – Seeley Lake Elementary Junior High Teacher Patti Bartlett Gladstone and her students were busy paying it forward this last month. After hearing about the extreme weather conditions facing residents on the Blackfeet Reservation, the students gathered donations of water, food and other personal necessities. Bartlett Gladstone made two trips with donations, one for the students in Browning and the other to residents in Heart Butte.

Bartlett Gladstone first came up with the idea to collect donations after hearing stories of their friends and neighbors on the reservation climbing up the snowdrift to get into the second story of their house and then shoveling from inside the house to get out as someone shovels from the outside.

"Hearing stories of it reminds me of 1996-97's winter here," wrote Bartlett Gladstone in an email. "There were people sleeping in their car because they couldn't get home, etc, etc." 

She wrote people were also very kind to local students this fall due to the fires.  "We got help and it was greatly appreciated, so I thought it was a way to pay it forward!" wrote Bartlett Gladstone.

With only one day to collect supplies, the junior high students and members of the community also brought in donations after seeing the information posted on Facebook. 

"We had anything and everything from water to food to shampoo," wrote Bartlett Galdstone. "I had a pickup load of things (lots of canned spaghetti, boxes of pasta dishes - non perishable items)"

Bartlett Gladstone gave the donations to Leo Bird, her friend who teaches at Browning High School, at the Indian Education Conference in Helena March 4. 

"He was delighted to have them," wrote Bartlett. "He took them to school and they were distributed to the students who needed things." 

Other communities on the reservation were still in need of help. Bartlett Gladstone said when she traveled to the reservation the weekend of March 17 with another pickup load of donations, some places still had six-foot high snow banks on the sides of the roads, some roads were still closed and areas were starting to experience flooding. 

"East Glacier had more than 244 inches of snow," wrote Bartlett Gladstone. "Heart Butte and Babb have had it very difficult this winter with their main access roads drifting shut daily." 

SLE students collected the donations and Bartlett Gladstone added some dog food and other fresh items including eggs and cheese. She dropped them off at the Methodist Church in Browning to distribute to Heart Butte.

Bartlett Gladstone was incredibly proud of the students and their willingness to help others, "Our students are thoughtful compassionate human beings who can change the world!"

 

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