Largely thanks to the charitable fundraiser Share the Love, Molalla High School has garnered national attention. The school has been selected to represent Oregon as a finalist in the Reader's Digest "Nicest Places in America 2019" contest.
Those interested in helping the school achieve the win can vote here once per day for the next 30 days.
Share the Love Founder and MHS teacher Joe Zenisek encourages folks to do just that.
"Share the Love is more than an inspirational annual fundraising event through which the community reaches out to support neighbors in need," Zenisek said. "STL is an expression of our shared values that reflects the highest aspirations of the Molalla community. Values that are apparent in the interactions I have with people in Molalla every day.
"That is what makes this place so special and why I believe Molalla is worthy to be called the 'Nicest Place to Live in America,' he said. "To that end, I encourage all of your readers to do what they do best in times of community need—come together, and in this case, vote."
Associate Principal Sara Bean originally submitted the nomination, but she gives all credit to the students for pushing it along.
"I'm so proud of our students," Bean said. "While I submitted the original nomination on a whim, the students drove the process from there and are the reason that we were selected, both for their work on communicating with the editors of the magazine, and for their work over the years in participating in Share the Love and in so many other acts of kindness in our community."
Those listed as nominators are Cody Martin, Maddy Brinkman, Clay Sperl, Cypress Barrett, Cayla Peeples, Israel Jarquin, Ivan Fregoso, Corinne Oster, Georgia Hunter, Robert O'Hara, Jaden Beyer, Tanner Foss-Howard, Kaityn Curry, Lola McIlHenny, Alexandra Snegirev, Anthony Morfin and Bean.
The editors at Reader's Digest described Share the Love's history with the sub-headline: "The student's goal was to fill a jar full of money for the needy. It's two decades later, and they need a MUCH larger jar."
Indeed, the fundraiser has grown from its small beginnings into a mega-fundraiser that brings in tens of thousands of dollars per year for families facing hardship.
This year, Molalla gave more than $90,000, even while the community simultaneously supported the three businesses affected by a Feb. 6 downtown fire.
It is for this spirit of generosity that the community is now being recognized.
"I know very well that no one does these things to receive recognition or publicity," Bean said. "However, I see it as a celebration of the good work and outstanding values that are present in Molalla that we have received this honor.
"A vote signifies that we are proud of each other," she said, "and want to show the world that it is possible to create a community where neighbors treat each other like cherished friends."
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.