Steamboat middle school anti-bullying club raises money for It Takes Courage

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— Heather Savalox has been working to spread her vision for the future of her anti-bullying club for area high school students, It Takes Courage, but when Steamboat Springs Middle School’s version of the group, the HOPE Club, presented Savalox with a $500 scholarship endowment earlier this week, she didn’t see it coming.

For the sake of others

Guilt. Sorrow. Mind-blowing pain. Loved ones often feel all of these emotions after they lose someone to suicide. In the years after, many of them are able to redefine their lives and even grow from the tragedy. They become people who want to help others avoid all of that pain.

It started in September when the HOPE Club, which stands for Helping Other People Everyday, put on a middle school dance. The proceeds from the dance and other fundraisers this school year totaled more than $1,000, and the HOPE Club wanted to do something with the money aside from booking a guest speaker or hosting another dance.

Savalox had been going to the middle school and elementary school campuses to share her vision of having a trickle-down system that would have high school students helping HOPE Club members who would in turn help elementary students in their anti-bullying campaign.

A few days after meeting with Savalox and hearing her goals, middle school counselor and HOPE Club coordinator Brande O’Hare emailed Savalox with an idea her students had.

HOPE Club students wanted to dip into that fundraising pot and pull $500 out for a college scholarship for one of Savalox’s It Takes Courage members.

“I was totally floored when she said they were going to do that,” Savalox said. “It wasn’t like they just gave me money. They had enough thought amongst themselves what they wanted to do with it. That’s phenomenal for a bunch of eighth-graders.”

O’Hare said HOPE club, which is made up of eighth-grade students, is a good recruiting source for It Takes Courage when those middle school students move on to high school. About 15 to 20 students attend HOPE Club meetings and events.

Ask HOPE Club students how big of a deal that scholarship endowment was for them, and they will shrug off the accolades. Giving is what they want to do, and if they can collectively help others, they know they are fostering Savalox’s vision.

“We just thought it was necessary, and we really want to help in the best way we can, make the world a little bit better place, I guess,” eighth-grader Max Timmerman said. “Hopefully, we can do more in the future and help others.”

The club members already are working to help others in the community. Through Routt County United Way, the HOPE Club adopted a local family of six for Christmas. Group members already are on the hunt for gifts for the family, and it's all paid for out of their pockets.

Meanwhile, Savalox is busy trying to revamp her program at the middle and elementary school levels. She also is figuring out how to divvy up the $500 scholarship to her three seniors in It Takes Courage.

“I’d like to be able to give them all scholarships, but I figure this is a first step,” Savalox said.

To reach Ben Ingersoll, call 970-871-4204, email bingersoll@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @BenMIngersoll

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