Some people say that everything happens for a reason.

Cathy Martin of Nebraska City is one person who is grateful that she was at the right place at the right time.

“It just pulled at my heartstrings that day,” Martin said. “I just wanted to do something.”

Last spring, Martin had received a call from her daughter’s school to come and repair a lens that had popped out her daughter’s eyeglasses. While she sat with her daughter, Victoria Eyman, who was then a kindergartener, in the Northside Elementary School’s office to carefully pop the lens back into place, she overheard a conversation between the school’s secretary and a teacher. The conversation was about a student who couldn’t have milk with his or her fellow classmates because there wasn’t enough money in his or her account and there wasn’t money left in the school’s milk fund to help the student out. Martin heard the concern in the teacher’s voice.  

“And they were saying how (the student) felt left out,” Martin said. “My heart was just breaking. I was just picturing this 5-year-old little kid sitting there feeling all left out because (he or she) doesn’t get milk and all of the other 20 kids are.”

Martin couldn’t bear the thought of a child going without. Martin said goodbye to her daughter and walked out to her car. Instead of inserting her keys in the ignition and leaving, Martin grabbed her checkbook and started writing a $32 check out to replenish that student’s milk account.

She walked back into the office and told the secretary to donate her money into that student’s milk account so he or she could have milk for the remainder of the school year. Martin said it was an emotional moment.

“So she started crying and I started crying. God sometimes just puts you in places that you’re supposed to be and I was supposed to hear that conversation right then, and I just happened to have $32 that I had nothing to do with,” Martin said. “And then I took off running out of the building because I was sobbing like a big baby.”
Martin then had a eureka moment that sparked a fundraiser to benefit other children not having enough money in their milk accounts.

Martin is a member of CHI Health St. Mary’s Light The Way Committee. One of the undertakings the committee partakes in is giving back to the community.

The committee decided to host a fundraiser at St. Mary’s in June for employees to donate money toward “Cartons For Kids,” as Martin calls it. Martin, who is also the Material Management manager at St. Mary’s, said employees who pitched in some money had their names put into a drawing for miscellaneous prizes.

The event raised $1,300, which will provide about 162 milk tickets for Hayward Elementary and Northside Elementary schools pre-kindergarten through fifth-grade students. That amount of money surpassed Martin’s expectations.
On the morning of Aug. 27, Martin presented the $1,300 check to Northside principal Tony Little at the school.
Little said milk tickets are $8 a piece and last for about a month. The milk fund is set up to benefit Northside and Hayward students who don’t have enough money in their milk accounts. However, the fund primarily assists Northside students the most because of the school being for pre-kindergarten through second-graders. Third- through fifth-graders attend Hayward.  

“Because of the age of our kids, we probably tap into that account more because as the students get older kids don’t necessarily want a milk during snack time,” Little said.

Little said the milk fund is solely funded by donations, primarily from local companies. When a student’s account is running low, a teacher will inform the school’s office and money will be used from the milk fund to provide milk for the student in need.

Little was grateful for St. Mary’s response to help students in need.

“We really appreciate the kindness of the community,” he said. “This is another example of businesses in our community reaching out and helping our schools and helping children, and Nebraska City Public Schools really appreciates that.”