The community of Umatilla and the entire region have come together in support of the Umatilla High School FIRST Robotics Team and its Robot Rambo.
Known in robotics competition as Confidential 4125 the team has qualified for the International Robotics competition in St. Louis, Mo., against some stiff competition.
But like many extracurricular activities, the team has had quite a challenge raising the $15,000 needed to make the trip.
According to Umatilla Superintendent Heidi Sipe, the team met its goal this week.
Kyle Sipe, the Clara Brown Middle School advisor, says that when the need became known in the community, individuals, groups and businesses stepped up.
The response from the community has been amazing, he said. People have given the funds they were able to share and many others have given of their time."
One woman showed up at the school with a five gallon bucket of pennies.
Another woman makes incredible tamales. Recognizing an opportunity, the group furnished her with the materials and she has been selling tamales by the dozen with the proceeds going to the trip. Barb Martin, a local resident without any kids in the schools, baked eight dozen cupcakes for the bake sale.
Many donors have asked to be anonymous, one of them from California, with a donation of $600, actually went so far as to cross out their name on the top of their check in the interest of anonymity.
Local businesses and organizations that have contributed make a long list. In addition to the Lions and Kiwanis clubs, Java Junkies, Platt Electric, Carlsons Umatilla Drug and others have contributed cash, materials and in some cases a portion of the sales for a given time.
Clean Spot Car Wash gave half the proceeds of their business on Saturday. Beasons Chuckwagon Café, halfway between Umatilla and Hermiston, is contributing 20 percent of the price of meals all this week and throwing in a free pop, iced tea or bottomless coffee free in the bargain. Cathy Stoltz, owner of the Chuckwagon said, "Its a pleasure to support excellence. We are honored to help give this remarkable team every chance to shine."
Tom Denchel Ford has supplied vehicles for the team to transport themselves, tools and the robot to various competitions. They are loaning a Ford Expedition for the team to drive back to St. Louis as well. Midco Bus is supplying a bus for the team.
Advisors and chaperones for the team had to complete driver training this past week to be qualified to drive. A science group in St. Louis has offered a gas card to fill up the bus for the return trip. One church in that area has volunteered sleeping quarters and another has offered to cook breakfast for them while there.