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Published April 08, 2013, 09:35 AM

Spring fling

Raising scholarships, building community.

By: Ryan Taylor, Agweek

TOWNER, N.D. — As much as we like the notion of rugged individualism, there are times when we realize we really depend on each other to get things done.

We come together as a community for a lot of reasons.

Sometimes it’s tragedy — a flood, a fire, a severe illness or loss strikes one of our community members. Sometimes it’s to speak out with a collective voice on some issue to rally for or protest against something we believe affects “us” and not just “me.”

Many times, we gather for church, for weddings or funerals, to hear a concert, watch a game or listen to a speech.

And, sometimes, we just get together to eat.

But when we get together to eat, there’s often more going on than meets the eye, or the stomach. As I write this, I’m preparing to put on the spring gala for our local Dollars for Scholars chapter, as its perennial president.

It’s a dinner, or a supper, depending on your terminology, and the tables are sponsored by individuals and businesses that want to eat, but also want to support the further education of young people from their community.

So, everyone gets to eat, but they also get a chance to buy something at the silent auction, or buy a chance at a fancy dessert for their table, or put money in a can to vote for the best decorated table of the night. And all those dollars? Well, they’re for the scholars, they’re for the students whom our little town graduates from high school and if they want to go on to college to earn a degree or learn a trade, we say, “good luck, here’s some help.”

Sense of community

It takes some help, and it takes a community to provide that help. If it weren’t for community, the Ivy League might have been the only league in the world of higher education. Fine education, but out of reach, financially, for a lot of us, and a pretty long drive, too.

So, together, we built good colleges and universities right here where we live, and we try to keep them affordable as a society and as a community. We maybe didn’t need to bid what we did on the coffee maker or the set of wrenches at the fundraiser’s silent auction, but by doing so, the business that donated and the bidder who bought it, helped a student with the cost of a book, a bit of tuition, or a few card swipes at the college cafeteria.

And, maybe, that student graduated and went to another community, or maybe even returned to our community, and fixed our tractor with their knowledge of diesel mechanics, or designed the new buildings with their newfound skills in architecture, or taught the next generation of students in our schools with a learned knack for engaging young minds.

They could do just about anything they set their mind to, if we take down the barriers that block the path between their minds and the shared goals that will likely benefit us all in the long run.

And, in our little town, in the fellowship hall of a church, we chip away at those barriers by sitting down to supper with friends and neighbors to visit and laugh and eat and drink … and raise money for everybody’s children, not just our own.

We’re rugged, we’re individual, but we are also tender and we are community.

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