There’s a lot of heart in these hills — and these halls.

March 4th — former Mandaree student Elizondo Joe lost his life in a tragic car accident. Four siblings were injured. The Mandaree Education Association — under the leadership of President Eldora Poitra — jumped in to help with expenses for the family.

“Our president, Mrs. Poitra, he had been one of her students,” said Katherine Holding Eagle Turner, “so she really took it hard, and she wanted to make an effort and ask the members if we would be willing to help the family out.”

That help has come in many forms, from students to MEA members.

“MEA, as a teachers association, we’ve had fundraisers, we’re continuing throughout the year,” said Chris Smith of MEA. “Actually we’re going through the summer even to continue to support the family and hopefully get them through this and make things a little bit easier for them.”

“When you see them hurting that bad,” said Tim Gray, also of MEA, “This is our way of being able to give back and say, hey,we know you’re hurting. Now we’re going to do whatever we can do about it, and we’re going to help this family out. It’s not sort of a, ‘we in the community.’ MEA is the community, for all intents and purposes, and the community is us.”

At the latest MEA meeting, members totaled up their latest donations to present to the family. Some ofthe children injured in the crash are still going back and forth to Fargo for physical therapy.

The family, originally from Arizona, is held in high regard.

“The older boys, they were very respectful,” said Jeanine Spotted Horse, MEA member. “They held themselves in a way where they were respectful to the teachers, everyone around them out in the community. You know, their parents raised some well-respected kids.”