RIDGWAY – The overwhelming amount of love and support for the Hailey Reading Program in memory of Hailey Matheson continues in communities around Ridgway and Tri-County.
Marcia Raubenstrauch, a kindergarten through fifth grade STEAM (science, technology, engineering, agriculture, art, and math) teacher at Francis S. Gradinetti Elementary School, said the program, which launched in May this year, was created to raise $15,000 in Hailey’s memory. , a second grade student who lost her life in a tragic accident on May 6, 2020.
“The outpouring of love, care and generosity for Hailey and the Matheson family was a true testament to the Tri-County area,” she said.
One of the objectives of the project was to buy a vending machine for books to house in the school. An outdoor “Buddy Bench” will also be installed there in memory of Hailey, so that any student who needs a playmate can sit there when they need a friend.
The Buddy Bench was fully funded by Jim Korb of Korb Monuments in DuBois. Steger Masonry also donated time and materials to install a cement slab where the bench will be placed, Raubenstrauch said.
“(This) will continue Hailey’s philosophy that every child can play and be kind to everyone,” she said.
Without being asked, many people at Ridgway have organized fundraisers for the program.
“The kids (have) held lemonade stands, bake sales and a local daycare even sold pork sandwiches and lemonade to support this project,” Raubenstrauch said.
New books were also donated for the book vending machine, and retired teachers showed up to help.
“A local farmer held a fundraiser even during the busiest season of the year. T-shirts have been sold, and the Ridgway community and businesses continue to care and support this project,” Raubenstrauch said.
The effort to honor Hailey isn’t over yet. There is still a goal to raise $4,000 to start an endowment for the Elk County Community Foundation.
“This endowment will help purchase books each year so the program can continue and Hailey’s love of reading will be central to providing all FSG Elementary students with new books they will love. read and share,” Raubenstrauch said. .
Donations can be mailed or dropped off at Northwest Bank –170 Main St., Ridgway, PA, 15853. Checks can be made payable to Hailey’s Reading Program.
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