Tabor’s snow serve day helps community dig out


When a record 20 inches of snow fell the second week of February on Hillsboro, Kan., even Tabor College canceled classes—a rare occurrence for the residential school. Recollections vary from 10 to 30 years since it last occurred. 

But 150 to 200 of the students, responding to an e-mail challenge by President Jules Glanzer, traded their books for snow shovels and formed teams to help residents, particularly the elderly, dig out from under the deluge.

“No one officially kept count, and there were some smaller groups of threes and fours that no one really knows how many of those,” says Beth Riffel, Tabor’s director of communication, about the response.

“But we had a large group of football players, the entire team of baseball and the coaches, and Amy Ratzlaff and many of her volleyball girls. Patrick Massarm, interim dean of student life, took two shifts of 30 kids out. Several theme houses went out as well.”

The voluntary effort caught the attention of several Wichita media outlets and a clip of the students at work made NBC’s national “Today Show.”

“We estimate the television exposure was probably worth $50,000 to $70,000 of television air time advertising,” says Riffel of the coverage.

To arm the battalion of students, Tabor officials solicited snow shovels from several local businesses.

“I made the request from Cooperative Grain and Supply,” Riffel says. “They loaned those to us. We also bought out everything from the hardware store and we begged and borrowed other shovels from faculty, staff and those for whom we scooped.”

Hillsboro was credited by some Wichita television stations as receiving the highest amount in the entire state—a total of 20 inches that began falling in the wee hours of Monday morning, Feb. 7, and finally ended Wednesday morning.

With temperatures in the 60s for much of the next week, the evidence of the monster snowstorm that blanketed the Hillsboro community quickly melted away. But the good will created by Tabor's Snow Serve Day crews will disappear less quickly.

"It's a wonderfully generous gift," Hillsboro resident Ferne Hiebert told a television crew filming students clearing her sidewalks and driveway.

—by Don Ratzlaff of the Hillsboro Free Press and area news reports


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