Students mourn with community

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One Pacific student is taking the initiative to fundraise for the family of the two Forest Grove girls who died in a fatal hit-and-run crash on Oct. 20.

“I personally knew the family through Theatre in the Grove,” said senior Tiara Herr who has done shows with Theatre in the Grove for the last five years. “Abby was involved and her mom was on the board. Abby stuck out, she was happy and outgoing always saying hi to everyone.”

Six-year-old Anna Dieter-Eckerdt and half-sister 11-year-old Abigail Robinson were hit by a car when playing in a leaf pile outside their home. Dieter-Eckerdt died at the scene and Robinson was airlifted to a Portland Trauma Hospital, but passed the next day.

“When I learned it was Abby and Anna it crushed me,” said Herr. “I needed to do some sort of outreach. Penny Wars are nice because you don’t have to donate a lot of money and you still help the family’s plight.”

One hundred percent of the donations are going to registered bank funds, which have been set up for the family.

“The Life Flight alone costs thousands of dollars,” explained Herr, referring to the helicopter that flew 11-year-old Abigail Robinson.

And so Herr decided to do something. She created a Penny Wars event.

It works like this; pennies are positive points and silver coins or dollar bills are negative points. There are five containers, each one marking certain majors. There are social sciences, science, arts, language and literature, and then the last is for general donations or other majors. The more pennies put into one box the more positive points. On the first day of fundraising a $5 bill was donated to the science box, that bill is equivalent to negative 500 points.

“Right now science is loosing,” said Herr. Later the first day, sophomore Douglas Bender dumped a whole water bottle full of pennies into the language and literature box.

The Penny Wars was estimated to have collected more than $20 of donations in the first day, Monday, Oct. 28. Herr said her goal for the end of the week is at least $100.

“People wanted to help, but didn’t know how,” said Herr.

She reached out to Greek Life at Pacific to table the Penny Wars and the sororities and fraternities were quick to volunteer their time.

“Greek Life is such a tight knit community,” said Herr. “So far I have had AKD’s, Deltas, Thetas, Philo’s and AZ’s sign up to table. Everyone really wants to help, not even associated to Greek, but in general which makes it more meaningful I think.”

Since the incident, outreach from the community has been in abundance. From Forest Grove High School junior football players wearing colors to honor the girls, to a large memorial on Main Street at the site the girls were hit.

Herr put a small heart trinket next to the collection of balloons, stuffed animals, cards, flowers and candles at the site, which has been growing and currently covers a large section of the block.

“At the Choral Concert we collected donations for the family and made $100,” said Herr. “We also dedicated a song called Going Home to the girls. I cried while singing it.”

She describes the Penny Wars not as a huge fundraiser, but something to help and bring awareness to the value of life.

“One memory I have was when we were at a gathering and Abby was going around saying hi to people and she came up and grabbed my hand and shook it very officially,” said Herr. “I wish I had the chance to do a show with her. She was sweet and lovable.”

The Penny Wars ends at 1 p.m. Nov. 1.


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