"Take a Teacher Shopping" event a success during inaugural season

John B. Crane
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE – A handful of motorcycles and a small bus assembled in front of the Devils Lake Sports Center Tuesday evening. 

Teachers and members of Fire & Iron Station 216 meet in front of the Devils Lake Sports Center on Aug. 30.

The occasion, however, was not one with students. At least, not directly. Instead, the get-together came between teachers and members of Fire & Iron Station 216 in preparation for the inaugural “Take a Teacher Shopping” event on Aug. 30. Fire & Iron is a nonprofit motorcycle club of firefighters and paramedics. Station 216 is located in Devils Lake. 

Whether from asking for online donations to going business-to-business and placing donation buckets, Dustin Dimmler – a Fire & Iron 216 member – saw the need to give back to teachers that pay out-of-pocket for supplies in the classroom. 

Between placing buckets at business entryways to requesting online donations, the club reached out to more than 50 businesses. 

“The community is really supportive of everything that the fire department does, and we just wanted to find a way to give back,” Dimmler, 37, said. “It’s no secret that teachers spend a lot of money out of pocket for their own classrooms for their kids. So, there [were] a few of us that have educational backgrounds in the club, so we kind of just decided that this is the direction we wanted to go to give back and help out a little bit.” 

"Take a Teacher Shopping" took place at Walmart on Aug. 30.

Once the clock hit 6:00 p.m. CDT, the bus left Devils Lake Sports Center en route to Walmart, with a handful of Fire & Iron Motorcycle Club members escorting. Of the more than $6,500 raised from the donations, more than $3,800 was spent Tuesday evening, with the rest going into Visa gift cards. 

Ashley Leibfried, a kindergarten teacher at Minnie H. Kindergarten Center, couldn’t have been more thankful for the gesture. As a teacher with 20+ kids in the classroom daily, such an occasion helped illustrate the importance of giving back. 

“I think it’s fantastic,” Leibfried, 39, said. “It’s just wonderful that our community is so great for helping us and doing different things, but to give back to us and just kind of realize how much we put into their wonderful children and just able to have that support is amazing.” 

"Take a Teacher Shopping" participants pose for a photo on Aug. 30.

From hair ties to Band-Aids, the shopping trip allowed teachers to pick up non-traditional items any educator would need over an eight+ hour day. 

However, the shopping trip also served as an opportunity to thank educators. The goal is to continue the event on an annual basis. 

“We would just like to thank the community,” Dimmler said. “Obviously, we couldn’t do it without them. Every place we went to was on board. They all recognize what teachers do, so that’s really encouraging that even if they couldn’t give this year, they did recognize the importance of it and wanted to thank the teachers for what they do.” 

John Crane is a sports/general assignment reporter for the Devils Lake Journal. Feel free to contact John via work phone (701-922-1372), cell phone (701-230-4339), email (jcrane@gannett.com), Instagram (johnbcranesports) or Twitter (@johncranesports) with any story ideas.