UNSUNG HERO: DeSoto 8th Grade students teach a lesson in positiv - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

UNSUNG HERO: DeSoto 8th Grade students teach a lesson in positivity

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DESOTO -- Some Jackson County middle schoolers are proving how far a positive attitude and perseverance can take you in this week's Unsung Hero.

A little handy tool is helping DeSoto eighth graders pay for their end of the year class trip.

"I never knew that you could tap a tree and get maple syrup out," said Daxton Rushing. 

This year the parents were in charge of fundraising efforts. In order to give students an educational and fun way to raise money, Autumn Doan showed them how to turn tree sap into the sweet stuff we pour on pancakes.

"I think this kind of syrup is the best kind of syrup because it's not as bad for you," said Autumn's son Ty. 

All 19 students tapped four sugar maple trees around the community, leaving a covered bucket to collect the sap. Autumn said this winter has been good because of the freezing temperatures at night and the warmer weather during the day. 

"All of that water and all the minerals and everything in it is in the ground and all that sunshine helps pull it up because that's where we get our spring. It's feeding the buds so that sugar is coming up to feed the buds when the weather says it's time," explained Autumn. 

Once the sap is collected it's boiled down into a syrup which will be used at a pancake breakfast fundraiser to help the students get to Gatlinburg. The first bucket filled up to about 40 gallons worth of sap but the students would never get to use it.

"Someone came and dumped it out," said Ty. 

"The tub was in the woods behind the house, completely dumped out so we lost all of that sap, which was just about a gallon's worth of syrup," added Autumn.

After explaining to the students what happened and that there wasn't a whole lot of time left, Autumn said it was the student's reaction that took her by surprise.

"Without even a second thought, every one of them was all about it. they didn't want to give up. They wanted to keep going," said Autumn.

"And I think everyone wanted to do it because it was fun and it was a time that you could hang out with their friends," added Ty.  

She said the students never said a negative word and got right back to work.
"You've got to show the person that the things that they do and the way that they act doesn't phase you and you can keep going," said Daxton. 
Every night, in the cold, took students turns checking the trees when they could. The students even got some donations from the community. 

"We worked hard and we never gave up," said Daxton. 

Autumn says this type of lesson is far richer than any syrup they made.    
"These kids have been so blessed just in being positive," added Autumn.

The pancake breakfast topped with the student's maple syrup is Saturday, March 9 at the DeSoto Park Pavilion from 8-10am. There will also be deer bacon and a drink served. Adults are $10 and kids 12 and under are $5. Breakfast is first to come and first serve while supplies last.

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