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A little more than $3,400 was recently pumped into the Schuyler Flood Relief Fund thanks to the creativity of two local women.

Longtime Schuyler residents Audra Jedlicka and Cindy Heavican in mid-April hosted their “Sip! Paint! Give!” extravaganza at Schuyler Golf Club, where 90-plus people came out for $50 apiece to paint their one-of-a-kind “Nebraska Strong” door hangers and get their hands on a custom-design T-shirt.

“More than 100 T-shirts and door hangers,” Jedlicka said of how many had been created in total, including those orders that came in after the event. “It was really a neat way to help your community while having fun.”

The idea for the event came about by accident as the two were attending a scrapbooking convention in Columbus with fellow friend Denise Kracl that occurred in mid-March during the first few days of what ended up being historic flooding. Then and there, the trio discussed what could be done to help raise funds to help community members in need.

“We were talking about how it would be nice to do something for the community, raise a little money and bring them together,” said Kracl, Colfax County’s attorney and public information officer.

Before long, an idea was hatched: Combine their mutual love for scrapbooking and making crafts to create a night where folks could come out, sip some wine, paint a door hanger and get a custom T-shirt celebrating Nebraska.

The door hangers are in the shape of the state of Nebraska, while the T-shirts feature a similar outline of the state and also feature the phrases “Nebraska Strong” and “#WeAreSchuyler” displayed prominently.

“We knew it would be a fun night to share our talents and something we just really enjoy,” said Jedlicka, who previously owned Imagine That Scrapbooking in Columbus.

Putting on the event was even more important to the two because of their close connection to the community. Both are neighbors who live in a neighborhood up against Lake Socorro, an area in south Schuyler that was especially hit hard by the flooding. The two longtime friends and their families were displaced from their homes for a while as a result of the flooding, and though they didn’t collect any funds for themselves, they were determined to help the many people they came across who were in desperate need of support.

“Schuyler is very much a melting pot community and this event has brought the community together, so regardless of language, race background, etc., everybody was filling sandbags and everybody was standing together,” Heavican said of the March flood. “For us, this event was very much a therapeutic outlet and even allowed us to escape from what we were dealing with in our personal lives and for other people in terms of what they were dealing with … We just wanted to help other families because there were a lot of families affected by the flood.”

Jedlicka and Heavican praised their friend Kracl, noting she was instrumental in helping organize the event. They said Kracl was an inspiration, noting her ongoing commitment to the community with efforts like the Schuyler Food and Toy Drive that is put on annually around Christmastime.

“She has such a caring side for the community,” Jedlicka said.

For her part, Kracl said she was just a helper. She praised Jedlicka and Heavican for leading the charge with the night.

“This was really Audra and Cindy,” she said. “They deserve all of the credit.”

In the days following the event, the two got to work on door hangers and shirts for people who weren’t able to attend. A lot was put into making the fundraiser a success, but they said it was all worth it when seeing so many happy people that night and presenting the big check to help flood victims.

“We loved it. We’re both givers,” Jedlicka said. “The needs are bigger than the funds coming in, so it was really cool to donate.”

The night itself is something they’ll likely not forget anytime soon.

“There were lots of tears,” Heavican said. “And lots of laughter.”

Matt Lindberg is the managing editor of The Banner Press. Reach him via email at matt.lindberg@lee.net.

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Managing Editor

Matt Lindberg is an award-winning journalist and graduate of the University of Kansas.

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