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Individualized Learning Center Students, Staff in Eureka Get into Holiday Spirit

One area non-profit received a really nice donation due to the generosity of students, staffs and supporters of the Individualized Learning Center Alternative High School in Eureka.

What started as a goal of raising $800 for the Nurses for Newborns Foundation resulted in a four-digit donation this month at the in . With the goal came some interesting things that the school's principal and teachers would do — in public.

So, before eligible ILC students graduated this month, the total student body of approximately 50 students saw their principal dress up like a gangster, one teacher get hit with a cream pie, another teacher dress up and sing like Britney Spears, another cut off and shave his hair to donate, and a male teacher dress up like a voluptuous female.

"I hope the students will laugh with me and not at me," said Terri Myers, who donned a Spears outfit and sang on stage, complete with a microphone.

ILC is for Rockwood School District students who are 16 years or older and are struggling with finishing high school for a variety of reasons. There typically are six classes of students at any given time. Part of the ILC requirements are community service hours and volunteerism, and the idea to donate to a charitable cause came from teachers and students discussing new ways to give back to communities.

The project eventually turned into a challenge of raising $1,000 in two weeks, said ILC Principal Hiken Hylen. He said $1,000 was given to Nurses for Newborns, and another $180 raised went toward purchasing items for a family in need as identified by a local organization.

Fundraising activities included reselling Krispy Kremes doughnuts and pizzas, as well as hosting taco bars, coffee mornings and pictures with Santa. Staff at the nearby participated in purchasing what was made available.

Chari Bender, a representative for Nurses for Newborns was onhand at the school's fun assembly to receive the check. She said the finances first would go toward the physical needs of infants of young parents, such as supplying diapers and formula. She said it is possible that it also might be applied toward in the "intangible tangibles" of raising babies, such as helping to pay utility bills or for emergencies.

"You may have just saved a baby's life," said Bender. "When parents are stressed because they only have one diaper left, babies can be at risk."

She said she had received two calls in the 24 hours prior to going to ILC from parents who were out of diapers and wipes.

Bender told the ILC students the best mother she had seen in 30 years was a 14-year-old mom. But not every situation is a natural fit; many times, young parents need to be shown how to care for infants. She said the mission of the Nurses for Newborns organization was to go into homes and save babies.

"We don't see a teen with a baby. We see a mother and a father who just happen to be young parents," Bender said when receiving the donation check.

Bender said Nurses for Newborns' program is a three-year, parent teaching initiative. "We do a lot of show and tell. Anyone has potential to be the best parents in the world. But it's your choice," said Bender.

"Our goal is to help with ensuring happy, healthy babies."

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