The North Platte High School Student Council collected the most funds among Nebraska student councils for the Make-A-Wish Foundation — for the fifth straight year.

This year the students donated $10,000 to the organization Friday night at the Bulldogs’ final home football game.

“Make-A-Wish is kind of our state fundraiser,” said Maggie Lashley, an NPHS senior. “They go hand-in-hand with the student council organization of Nebraska, so we really just wanted to take it over the top this year.”

The fundraising began last spring with the Light Up the Night 5K at Cody Park, and the big event was the Student Council golf tournament.

“We were like, it would be awesome if we could raise this much,” Lashley said. “We had our golf tournament this summer and it was really successful. We made around $6,000 just from the golf tournament. It was just amazing.”

Lashley said they couldn’t have done it without generous community support.

“We all really wanted to make a lot this year just to give back,” said senior Savanna States. “In years before, we raised around $3,000 to $4,000 off of just our golf tournament. We knew we wanted to go as far as we could.”

States said the council put in a lot of time to make it happen.

“We had already upped the amount from last year and we were like, let’s just go for it,” States said. “Besides our two big events, we do little fundraisers like Miracle Minutes where at sporting events we run around with coffee cans and we only get a minute to collect as much money as we can.”

At the first home football game, States said, the council hosted a tailgate party with the help of NebraskaLand National Bank. Employees from the bank grilled hamburgers without charge to the students.

“We made about $1,200 off of that,” States said. “It was really successful this year.”

Make-A-Wish Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded in the United States that fulfills wishes for children with critical illnesses who are between 2½ and 18 years old at the time of referral.

“We just send all the money into Make-A-Wish and they decide who it goes to,” said Student Council member Finn Lucas, a senior.

“They told us there’s like 80 kids in waiting right now,” Lashley said.

Make-A-Wish does not give details about where the money goes.

“I asked about this when we were at our state convention,” Lucas said. “We don’t know who the money goes to, I wish we did. I always thought that would be cool if we did.”

Lucas said he was told the average cost of a wish is around $7,500.

“We were able to grant a kid’s full wish and have a little extra too,” Lucas said.

Student Council officer Ciera Carlson said the motivation for the project comes from helping others.

“I think the thing that motivates us is that we’re students in a small town in western Nebraska making a difference and we’re helping kids,” said Carlson, also a senior. “They’re dealing with a critical illness and their lives aren’t always the most happy. There’s all the doctor appointments and hospital visits and we can do something to help that.”

Lucas said the community has done a lot for the students.

“It’s just important because the community does us so much for us growing up and gives us a lot,” Lucas said. “We just feel like it’s important to reciprocate that and give back to our community that’s given us so much.”

Lashley said she wouldn’t have wanted to grow up anywhere else.

“Growing up in North Platte has been a blessing to me,” Lashley said. “It’s such a giving community and it’s so supportive, and especially this year being my senior year, I finally realized that.”

Doing community service is a way to be a leader in the community, Lashley said, and helps her to realize she can make a difference.

“I’m just super excited and feel like we did something big,” States said. “A lot of the time the stigma of student council is like, oh, you plan dances and you don’t do anything else.”

She said projects like Make-A-Wish help to remove the stigma.

“We actually do super big life-changing things for people that we don’t even know,” States said. “I think that people in the community should know a group of high schoolers can do crazy things.”

“There’s hope for this generation,” Lashley added.

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