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story.lead_photo.caption Cole R-5 class of 2022 representatives Braeden Short, Kyliah Dassrath, JeAnn Boessen, Jennie LeCure and Olivia Brookins show off their donation to Central Missouri Honor Flight. Photo by Submitted photo

EUGENE — As freshmen at Cole County R-5, students enrolled in Kelly Hoelscher's American history class are encouraged to give back to veterans.

During the district's Veterans Day assembly Monday, a check for more than $6,500 was presented to Central Missouri Honor Flight — a program that takes U.S. military veterans to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C., free of charge.

Over the last two years, a "Short Stack for a Tall Cause" pancake fundraiser has been the breadwinner for more than $9,000 in donations.

The students organize the community event in the spring and get local businesses to sponsor the silent auction, Hoelscher said.

"The kids basically organize everything," Hoelscher said.

The project started after Hoelscher was awarded the Smart/Maher VFW National Citizenship Education Teacher Award from Veterans of Foreign Wars' Basinger/Sone Memorial Post 1003.

"I challenged my kids that they should try to match the money I won," Hoelscher said.

She was not surprised when their efforts more than doubled the prize. The community supports veterans, and the student volunteers work diligently, she said.

In her 20 years of teaching with the district, numerous alumni have joined the military, Hoelscher said.

The pancake fundraiser for 2020 has not been scheduled at this time, she said. Future plans may include sending funds to other organizations that help veterans or allowing all grade-levels to participate, Hoelscher said.

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