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'On behalf of the high school, thank you to the businesses, schools and each and every person who donated money or time, and thank you to the community for coming together to help a cause that needs our support.'

By Natalee Litchfield for the Molalla Pioneer

One malignant tumor, two car accidents, a house fire, an urgent case of breast cancer, four families ready to fight and one community to support them unconditionally.

This past February, Molalla came together to raise an unbelievable $90,412 for the Hall, Eatherton, Wakefield, and Burroughs families.

"I initially didn't see the amount on the check when it was revealed because I was holding it...When I turned my head to look how much it was, I almost dropped the check because I just wanted to run around and give everyone a big hug," said Lola McElhaney, a current Sophomore at Molalla High School.

COURTESY PHOTO - Pictured are leadership students along with the Hall, Eatherton, Wakefield and Burroughs families after the check was revealed at this year's event. The nonprofit Share the Love was started in 2000 by Joe Zenisek, an MHS science teacher, using a donation jar at lunch with the goal of raising $400 to ship medical supplies to the town in the Philippines where he volunteered with the Peace Corps. After a few years, he turned it over to the leadership program at the high school where it could be student-led, and from there, growth has been constant each year.

"As you get older, you hope to leave behind some sort of influence on the world, and I know Share the Love is mine," said Zenisek. "It has touched a lot of lives, and not just the people who receive the money, but the students and the whole community."

Of course, the fundraiser does not operate without its fair share of tribulations— particularly with the weather. "Usually as students, we hope for snow days but during Share the Love it makes coordinating your event so much harder," said Emilie Mendoza, a current junior at MHS. Between standing outside in the rain collecting money for Fill the Bucket, High School students perfecting their routine for the Share the Love pageant, and incredible support from local businesses and schools, Share the Love is a community effort. "I want to thank every single person that donated from the bottom of my heart. Whether it was one dollar, $100, or $1,000, we could not have done this without you," said Bella Dutton, the Share the Love coordinator.

As illustrated by the entire community's sense of support, Share the Love is about much more than the life-changing amount of money that is raised.

"The number on the check is minuscule compared to the feeling of helping someone get back on their feet and be able to enjoy life again," said Jaden Beyer, an MHS senior.

In addition, Share the Love brings a sense of awareness and humility to the community.

"It is one of the most amazing times of my life, and I'll appreciate it forever, because it showed me that there are things in this world that are bigger than us all," said Madison Brinkman, a junior at Molalla High School. "But that doesn't have to stop us from doing everything we can to share kindness and most importantly love, whenever we can."

Raising nearly $100,000 in a span of three hectic weeks is both unique and impressive to say the least. On behalf of the high school, thank you to the businesses, schools and each and every person who donated money or time, and thank you to the community for coming together to help a cause that needs our support.

In years to come, Share the Love will have even more challenges, experience growth, and continue to help families that need it. To the Hall, Eatherton, Wakefield, and Burroughs families, you let us all be a part of your story and a fight that is nothing short of extraordinary.


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