Garfield student gets rewarded for putting classroom above herself

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — A second grade girl at Garfield Elementary in Sioux Falls is being honored as a local hero. Sofiena Red Lightning went on a shopping spree during Christmas time with the Sioux Falls Police Department as part of their Heroes and Helpers program. Instead of spending all of the money on herself, she chose to buy school supplies for her classroom.

Red Lightning and her teacher Mary Novak kicked off the day with a hug at Monday’s assembly… then they both got a big surprise from the Sioux Falls Police Department.

“It can be a little scary in front of a lot of people right?” Officer Kyle Johnson said.

They were called to the front. At first Sofiena was a bit afraid.

But Johnson says the second-grader deserves high praise for her actions during the holidays.

“Sofiena, instead of spending money on other things, she was looking for school supplies for her teacher. As far as the police department goes, that really struck us as really caring for others,” Johnson said.

On top of brand new notebooks, headphones and crayons for her classroom, Officer Johnson presented Sofiena with a special patch.

After the event, we asked Sofiena about what she did when she got to shop with cops back in December.

Sofiena: At the end, I buy my teacher a notebook.

Matt Holsen: Why’d you do that?

Sofiena: Because I was thinking about her.

Matt Holsen: Why?

Sofiena: Because she’s been so nice.

“The day after it happened, she came in with a wrapped notebook with a cat on it and coffee mugs. She was so excited to give it to me,” Novak said.

Novak says the gift says a lot about who Sofiena is as a person.

“We help each other learn by taking care of each other. So that’s kind of what we embody in our classroom. Just helping each other out and taking care of each other. It’s nice to see that she’s using that outside the classroom too just helping other people and looking out for everybody,” Novak said.

School supplies are great, but officers also sweetened the deal by bringing some cupcakes to Mrs. Novak’s classroom.

“It’s nice to get a little extra boost to help us in January,” Novak said.

A boost delivered by community members coming through for one another and rewarding positive behavior.

The Sioux Falls Police Department says the supplies were purchased with gift cards from Target and Walmart along with donations raised by local officers.

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