Mill Park School ‘Penny Drive’ helps slain officer’s family

Look at this story, and you’ll meet some little kids with really big hearts. You’ll be astounded at how many pennies will go to help Officer Robert Libke’s family …

At their special all-school assembly, the “Mill Park Panther” greets staff and kids.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
When Mill Park Elementary School 4th grader Alexis Bridges heard about the family left behind of slain Oregon City Police Officer Robert Libke, it affected her deeply.

“We created a “Penny Drive” to help the officer’s family,” Alexis told East Portland News in the hallway of her school, as she and three of her classmates were preparing for an all-school assembly on the morning of November 26.

“We saw this on the news and I thought, ‘This is not good’. I thought if we did a penny drive we could get some money to help the family.

Mill Park Elementary School 4th Grade teacher Kari Wilson, with “Penny Fund” raisers Alexis Bridges, and her helpers – Araceli Ramirez and Laci Jacks.

“It started out just among the students in our class,” Alexis explained. “Then, everybody in the school donated. The students in my class helped collect it.”

Although she looked a little nervous about being in front of her entire school, she commented, “I feel good about this. It feels good to help someone.”

The students of Mill Park Elementary quiet down, and listen respectfully as the program begins.

Mill Park Elementary School Principal Rolando Florez tells about the fundraising drive, and introduces the students responsible.

Just outside the gymnasium, Mill Park Elementary School Principal Rolando Florez was all smiles. He looked down at the check in his hand, looked up and said, “They raised $545. It’s just amazing.

“This wasn’t myself, or our staff, who thought this up. It was our fourth-grade student, Alexis,” Florez said. “And here we are, two weeks later, with more than $500 for the fallen officer’s family. Like I said, it’s amazing.”

The school’s mascot, the Mill Park Panther, greeted the young students as they came into the gym. After the student body was seated, Principal Florez recalled told of the “Penny Drive” and thanked the school for participating.

Alexis Bridges and her friends came forward and faced the students. “This seems like an important thing to do,” she said. “Thank you all for helping.”

Alexis Bridges tells the school about their project, while her teacher and classmates Araceli Ramirez and Laci Jacks listen.

Laci Jacks presents the check to Oregon City Police Officer Mike Day.

After Oregon City Police Officer Mike Day accepted the check, on behalf of Officer Robert Libke’s family, he told East Portland News, “I think this is outstanding.

“To learn that it was fourth-grade girls who came up with this idea, it’s just amazing,” Day added. “On behalf of the Oregon City Police Department, it is humbling to know that this community has come together and given us such support.  These kids realize how significant this is, and obviously have done so much to help.”

Almost too overcome with emotion to speak, Oregon City Police Officer Mike Day accepts the donation from students and staff at Mill Park Elementary.

Officer Day appeared to be nearly overcome with emotion when he accepted the check from Laci Jacks. “Seeing the amount of the check, and hearing the cheering students, I was speechless. I wanted to talk, but I just couldn’t find the words to appropriately say ‘thank you’. Again, it’s a humbling experience.”

© 2013 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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