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The Unbreakable Will of This Pennsylvania Town

Salena Zito on

LOWER ALLEN TOWNSHIP, Pennsylvania -- Sometimes, a community's relationship with its culture and its people is so strong it can withstand anything that tries to break it apart. Such durability is a testimony to the sense of what Americans have within their communities.

On social media, we mostly read about traditions falling to the mob or, worse yet, to one person's outrage. It's rarer to see what happened in this Cumberland County town, where the community swiftly came to the defense of the Cedar Cliff Colts High School football booster club.

Across the country, booster clubs are a critical part of high school sports' success, especially in rural and inner-city school districts where the funds allocated to sports programs have shrunk over the years. The parent-led volunteer clubs help raise money so their student players can have things like new helmets to replace aged and unsafe ones.

Here in this school district, as in thousands of districts across the country, raising money has been a challenge because COVID-19 has killed the fundraising. Local restaurants and businesses cannot give like they used to. Traditional fundraising efforts, such as selling cards at discounts at local businesses, can't happen because a lot of local businesses are hurting.

The Cedar Cliff Colts booster club has an annual obligation to raise around $50,000 for new equipment. Running out of options, the volunteer parents came up with a fundraising plan that suited the traditions of the community -- have both the volunteers of the booster club and the parents of the players sell raffle tickets offering 10 different prizes, five of which were guns.

Gun ownership around here is pretty normal. But this didn't sit well with one parent at the high school. She complained to the school board, which informed her that the booster club was under no obligation to receive district approval for its fundraisers.

 

She then took it to the local paper , saying, "I cannot support something that is potentially putting guns in more homes of the teenagers I see, knowing the stats."

Then something remarkable happened: nothing.

The school, citing its lack of jurisdiction over the matter, didn't try to stop the event. The community didn't storm the school with protests outside its doors. It was hard to find any evidence of outrage, even on social media.

Around here, the whining winds of outrage were still because people in this community calmly said, "Not in our town."

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