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'Better the community': Bridger students surprise senior center with donation following grant win

Presenting part of the donation to Bridger Senior Center
Posted at 5:43 PM, May 21, 2024

BRIDGER — Family, Career, and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA) students in Bridger have been hard at work putting together dozens of community projects this school year.

They were recently selected as grant winners through Lead4Change and were awarded $2,000 that they decided to match and give back to the community.

"It's just such a joy to reflect on how much we've done over the years,” said Grant Goltz, a Bridger High School junior who helped lead the project that won the grant, on Tuesday.

Gage Goltz
Gage Goltz

Food drives, treat sales, and fun runs—these are just a few of the projects Bridger FCCLA students have completed this year.

"It allows us to help out our community and really better the community by accomplishing this,” said Justin Drabetsky, another Bridger High School junior who helped lead the grant-winning project, on Tuesday.

Justin Drabetsky
Justin Drabetsky

The students are passionate about giving back to their community, influenced by their teacher, Vicki Kaufman.

"We just love (Miss Kaufman) so much," said Goltz.

Vicki Kaufman (left)
Vicki Kaufman (left)

"(Miss Kaufman) cares deeply about the students," Michaela Witt, Bridger High School principal, said on Tuesday. "It just shows with her dedication for what she does with the students."

Michaela Witt
Michaela Witt

But after 32 years of teaching, Kaufman's last day will be this Friday.

Before her sendoff, a chance to come together one final time presented itself.

Vicki receiving a plaque for her 32 years of teaching
Vicki receiving a plaque for her 32 years of teaching

"To send Miss Kaufman off like this, it's really a big thing this year. And we're happy to do it,” said Drabetsky.

On Tuesday at the Bridger Senior Center (Golden Age Society), Kaufman and her class stopped by with a gift, donating $4,000.

"It really made us happy to see all their faces, the smiles, and all the hugs," Goltz said. "It was really nice."

Lead4Change selected the Bridger FCCLA group, composed of 7th-12th grade Bridger Middle and High School students, as grant winners for their impact on the community. They were awarded $2,000 from the grant and matched the donation with $2,000 in project profits to give away.

Lead4Change winners page
Lead4Change winners page

"There's lots of winners in the eastern part of the country, and we're one of the fewer (winners) in the western part," Goltz said. "So hopefully we can bring it more over here to spread the love."

The group decided to gift the money to the senior center to help pay for meals and whatever else it might need.

It was the perfect way to send off their teacher, who changed her community and students for the better.

Kaufman celebrating
Kaufman celebrating

"It's a hard position to fill with her shoes," Witt said. "We're hoping the next person that comes in, will continue all the good things."

To learn more about the Bridger FCCLA group, click here.