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Special needs students’ small gesture means wonders for Oklahoma rancher impacted by wildfires

WOODWARD – Inside Karen Rogers’ classroom at High Plains Technology Center, her students are taught about life principles, like compassion and kindness.

“And gratitude and there was just that good feeling that you get from doing something good for someone else,” said Rogers, who teaches a career services class for special needs students.

So when one of her students became worried about the fires early last month that had affected so many people near her hometown of Buffalo, like the Bentley family, the students’ classmates put their lessons into action.

Signing a card, with love, and inserting a $400 check – money raised through their own work in their class’ greenhouse.

“The outpouring of support and help from not only the state of Oklahoma, but – my gosh – all over,” said rancher R.A. Bentley, “People from all over the United States keep showing up.”

Bentley says complete strangers have showed up to his ranch, east of Laverne, offering a hand: from donated fencing and hay for the cattle to cookies.

He says when his son – a diesel tech student at HPTC – came home with a card and $400 inside last Monday.

“I – it’s pretty tough to talk about that without, just, golly,” he said, choking up.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with you, and your family,” Bentley said, reading the message in the card with all of the student’s small messages, “We hope this will ease a little of your burden, we love you. Service and careers class, High Plains Technology."

Between losing his mother in late February, followed by the wildfires that scorched roughly 1,000 acres of his land, killed about a dozen cattle and destroyed the shed with everything inside, Bentley says it’s been easy to get emotionally drained.

“I tell you, when (Cole) handed me that card, it was pretty tough. It really was,” he said. “You get down.”

But he says the student’s caring has lifted his spirits more than anything over these last several weeks.

And all that it takes is a few kids – who might otherwise go overlooked by the rest of society – to be a positive force for others. Maybe that’s something we all could use a course in, now and again.

“It’s – you want to do good in the world and these kids want to do good,” said Rogers, who has a class of about two dozen students. “When it all just comes together right, to where you were able to touch someone’s life, more than you ever thought possible, but as a result, then his kindness has come back and they’ve realized – you know – the good in the world.”

"That's love. We've seen so much through the heartland here,” Bentley said. “I hope the whole world is watching."