- Associated Press - Monday, March 17, 2014

ENID, Okla. (AP) - For 10 years, students at Oklahoma Bible Academy have participated in a program that helps a person or family in need, while teaching students what it means to truly give.

Students Performing Unselfish Deeds, or SPUD as it’s known to the 270-plus students at the school, chooses an area family that needs help to get back on track, not just a financial handout.

Headmaster Dallas Caldwell said the program does more than provide financial support, it provides a way out from under a problem.

“Our students and our folks and our schools, we find a family that maybe mom’s been diagnosed with cancer or the child has some catastrophic illness and what has happened is we’ve learned they’re facing a spiritual crisis, emotional crisis, and with the medical issues you have a financial crisis our students identify,” he told The Enid News & Eagle (http://bit.ly/1fOKktE).

“Last year, we helped a family and dad who was diagnosed with cancer, and they had some needs that just couldn’t be met.”

He said students raised between $30,000 and $35,000 to help that family.

“It’s not just handing them a bunch of money. It’s trying to identify what bills are keeping them down,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes they need financial advice. Sometimes they just need someone to reorganize a loan or pay for a little legal help.

“This family had several bills that were very cumbersome, and if they could get out from under them they could make it on their own.”

He said with the money raised through SPUD, the family was able to pay off enough bills to make it on their own.

“We just help. That’s what we want to do,” Caldwell said. “Sometimes you hurt people by helping. Helping doesn’t just mean handing people money. It’s showing them how to invest it, where to spend it.”

Teacher and student council adviser Jenelle Crismas said the idea was brought to her by two students.

“I am the student council adviser, and two of my boys on student council 10 years ago heard about it at a state convention and made it their own,” she said. “Their goal was to raise $10,000, and I laughed at them. Then they said OK $5,000.”

Crismas said she thought they would be lucky raise a few thousand dollars.

“We raised $13,000 that very first year,” she said.

The first person helped by SPUD was a 7-year-old girl who had been diagnosed with leukemia. Crismas said the student council would go and visit the girl. Now that same girl attends OBA.

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