Throughout February, Yuma Lutheran School is putting biblical principles into action as staff and students care for one of their own.
In October, the school’s seventh- and eighth-grade science teacher Denise Lindeman was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer and began her journey through the realm of oncology appointments, surgery and chemotherapy. In the coming weeks, she’ll begin a six-week round of radiation.
To take up arms alongside Lindeman in her battle, the school coined “$2 Tuesdays.” For a donation of $2, students can buy themselves a uniform-free school day, which in turn affords Lindeman a little extra help in covering her incurred medical costs.
The initiative is planned to continue every Tuesday for the month of February. According to Principal Angela Schiller, $800 was collected the first week alone.
“It’s great to see such great support coming from our families, because most of the younger grade levels don’t even know who she is – until you get into middle school, you don’t have Ms. Lindeman as your teacher,” Schiller said.
The idea came about last month, according to Schiller, when the K-8 campus participated in National Lutheran Schools Week, in which the network of parochial schools often activate fundraisers and other initiatives to show love and service to others. At Yuma Lutheran School, the week houses a longstanding source of competition as each grade level tries to trounce one another in a “coin war,” bringing in bounties of loose change and dollar bills to support missionary work.
This year, the school decided the money should go to Lindeman, who has been unable to teach for most of the academic year due to her diagnosis. Collectively, the students pooled together $4,500.
“The competition was fierce,” said Schiller. “In one jar alone, there was $1,100. We started thinking about different things we could do to show our love for Ms. Lindeman, and with February being Valentine’s Day, we said, ‘Let’s do $2 Tuesdays.’ We have about 460 kids enrolled here; if 300 participate every week, we should raise around $2,000 for Ms. Lindeman.”
To further show their support, the school has made “Team Lindeman” T-shirts, which students and staff don on $2 Tuesdays. To make sure Lindeman still feels connected to the campus in her absence, several classes have also sent her videos just to say hello.
“We pray for her every week in chapel and the kids have made cards for her; during Lutheran Schools Week we also made cards for healthcare workers and some of the kids wrote, ‘Thank you for taking such good care of Ms. Lindeman,’” Schiller said. “The kids are showing a lot of love and support for her right now.”
As for Lindeman, she said the love and prayers are palpable.
“I’ve never felt so loved,” said Lindeman. “In times like these, you realize how much people really do care about you. They’re family, and family takes care of family – and those kids take it to heart. It’s not just something that’s in the Bible – they’re putting it into action. The little ones I see when I go visit tell me, ‘We’re praying for you,’ and it just makes your heart feel so good. I believe in the power of prayer, and that’s what’s getting me through all this; that’s how I know I’m going to beat all this and get through all these treatments. I feel like I’ve been so surrounded by positive prayer, and it’s made me have a positive outlook on whatever lies ahead.”
The journey hasn’t been easy, Lindeman said, but it’s served to strengthen her faith; for that, and the way members of her school community have put their own faith into practice, she’s grateful.
“God didn’t cause this, but he does say, ‘I will always be there to help you get through things,” Lindeman said. “I’m not going to worry about this. Every time I turn around, someone else pops up who’s being helpful and caring, taking care of this or that. God is working through these kids; they’re his vehicle.”
According to Schiller, that’s just the nature of Yuma Lutheran School.
“We love and take care of each other, even if you don’t know the people,” said Schiller. “It’s not just about those people you know, it’s not just about family, it’s about caring for people who are in need.”
For individuals who’ve wrapped up their school years but wish to join forces with Yuma Lutheran School in support of Lindeman can send a check to the school, located at 2555 S. Engler Ave., or stop in the front office with their donation.