NELIGH, Neb. (NCN) - On Tuesday, it became official that the small town of Neligh lost a member of its family. So, when the chance to support those affected came about, the entire family showed up.
"As a school system, people are hurting," said Lisa Hanson, a teacher and event organizer. "So everybody wants to be that family, that they come together and they just want to be there for each other.”
Authorities announced in Lincoln on Tuesday that they found the body they believe to be Sydney Loofe’s. The 24-year-old originally from Neligh was reported missing on November 16.
Since then, the town came together. It traded its typical Warrior maroon for green – the awareness color for missing children.
Craig Heckert bought two green lights for his front porch and his wife posted it to Facebook.
“We got to thinking about it, it’s like you know what, I think the entire town would like to do this and support the family,” Heckert said.
He bought out Menard’s in four different towns and has distributed hundreds of lights.
Hanson and another teacher organized the soup supper, auction and benefit night in conjunction with Neligh-Oakdale’s basketball games. Proceeds will go to a fund for the Loofe family set up at Heritage Bank. The community hopped on board.
“We’ve had community members saying hey what can I do, how can I help,” Hanson said. “The businesses have called and said let us help. The hospital said, can we bring all the makings for your chili and for your chicken noodle soups.”
Over 400 guest later, Athletic Director Ron Beacom isn’t surprised by the turnout.
“I think there’s so many people that would like to help if they could they’re just not sure what to say or what to do,” Beacom said. “This kind of gave them a medium to do that.”
Figuring out how to help has turned into figuring out how to cope with the news. Whether it’s selling lights, passing around hugs or thinking of your own kids, in a time of tragedy, the community’s family bond has strengthened.
“People come together, but in a tragedy like this, everybody comes together,” Hanson said.