Hughes County combine fire leads to act of kindness

Local News

HUGHES COUNTY, S.D. (KELO) — Elaine Erickson teaches preschool and kindergarten at Blunt Elementary in the Agar-Blunt-Onida School District.

When she finished up some work at the school this Saturday, she decided to go join her fiancé in the combine.

But the ride took an unfortunate turn when the couple noticed something was wrong with the machine.

“We looked out the window and we could see smoke and we got out and sure enough within minutes fire was dropping from the back end. It just took seconds and everything caught on fire. There was nothing we could do,” Teacher Elaine Erickson said.

Erickson posted about the combine fire on Facebook. When the mother of one of Erickson’s students showed the post to her six-year-old son, he knew exactly what to do.

That student is kindergartener Hunter Millage.

He walked up to his teacher on Monday and gave her something special.

“He looked at me and he said, ‘I brought you this combine. It was mine. I got it for Christmas from my grandpa and I want to give it to you because you don’t have a combine anymore,'” Erickson said.

“I thought I would give this combine to Ms. Erickson, and fill her bucket,” Student Hunter Millage said.

Filling someone’s bucket comes from a book and kindness initiative used in the school.

Kelli Volk: How do you think you made your teacher feel when you gave her that combine?
Millage: Happy.

“Even though it might not be an object I can use, it’s something I can put away and remember how it made me feel when he shared that with me,” Erickson said.

For now, that little green machine sits on a shelf in Erickson’s classroom, a reminder that even the smallest gesture can make a big difference in someone else’s life.

The elementary principal says staff members teach a social-emotional learning curriculum each week in addition to the school counselor’s guidance sessions.

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