Last updated: August 27. 2013 11:50AM - 100 Views

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Without the generosity of benefactors such as Sue Heckart and Charlie Marshall, local students and educators would face less fulfilling academic and extra-curricular experiences.

The two local business owners and longtime community supporters were surprised Thursday with recognition awards during the eighth annual Sedalia Showcase, sponsored by Economic Development of Sedalia-Pettis County. As reported by the Democrat’s Bob Satnan, the showcase put the spotlight on education’s impact on the local economy, and Sedalia 200 District Superintendent Harriet Wolfe took time to thank Heckart and Marshall for all they have done for area students and schools.

Heckart, owner of Heckart Funeral Home, has a long history of supporting local causes, especially the Sedalia school district and State Fair Community College. She singlehandedly provided one of the signature pieces of Smith-Cotton High School, the Heckart Performing Arts Center.

Marshall, owner/operator of local McDonald’s restaurants, provides backing for high school and college athletics teams and, through sponsorships, parents and fans of those teams. He also supports the Boys & Girls Clubs of West-Central Missouri and other worthy causes.

We could not be more pleased that Heckart and Marshall were lauded for their lasting contributions. They truly are examples of what is best about our community.

And while we recognize that they are not alone in providing continuing support for education and extra-curricular activities, budget realities tell us our local students will continue to need donors great and small if they are to continue to have a full educational experience.

State and federal funding for education continues to decline, so administrators rightly focus their resources first on core academics; that leaves fine arts, athletics and academic enhancement groups such as the math team or robotics club looking for donors and sponsors. A lot of that support comes from parents, but as those expenses continue to rise, it will become more of a challenge for families to afford students’ participation in such worthwhile ventures.

John Swearingen, president of Economic Development of Sedalia-Pettis County, said of businesses considering locating in the area, “(T)he first question they ask about is the education system. ... Education is a clear mainstay to the economy of this community.”

So whether it is purchasing a discount card to support a band student or the Sedalia School District Foundation, or stepping up on a grander scale such as Heckart, Marshall or the anonymous donor who provided Sacred Heart School with an iPad lab, support for local education benefits both students and our community.

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