Not everyone is out to make a buck: Hillsboro man helps clean up in Halstead

Hillsboro’s Glenn Litke brought his Kubota Tractor to Halstead to help clean up and started a wave of pay-it-forwards.

HALSTEAD—For Dana Meyer and her husband, Kenyon, help came from Hillsboro, riding an orange Kubota tractor.

Meyer has a rare pain disorder that required brain surgery a year and a half ago. It didn’t go well, and she’s had multiple surgeries since, which means she can’t work, and her husband is their family’s sole supporter.

It also meant that after the wind storms on May 19, her husband was left to clean up their property by himself.

“We didn’t know what to do,” Meyer said. “We were kind of just, our insurance company kept telling us, just keep receipts, just keep receipts, just keep receipts, but who do you call? Everybody is booked. There is nobody coming. There’s nobody coming to help.”

Glenn Litke, who farms southeast of Hillsboro, loaded up his tractor on Monday morning after the storm to help his nephew clean up tree damage outside of Newton. When he finished, he drove to Halstead, looked around, and said he saw people in need.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Why would you come out here and do this?’” Litke said. “Well, I says, ‘I love the Lord, and I love helping people.’”

Meyer said that Litke was helping her neighbor, and she thought they knew each other. She started talking to Litke because she has a thing for Kubotas.

“I’m not going to lie. I like those orange tractors,” Meyer said.

When he finished, Meyer tried to pay Litke, but he told her to put it in an offering plate on Sunday. She told him she was Catholic and they tithed, which led to a conversation about religion and her brain surgery journey.

Plus, she learned that Litke didn’t come to Halstead to help anyone specifically.

“He just decided to come and help people randomly, because he’s just a nice person,” Meyer said. “Bless his heart, because we needed it. We really needed it.”

Since he wouldn’t take money, she took his picture, got his name, then posted it on Facebook and said, “Someone make this man famous for just being a nice person.”

At the time of this writing, her post had 1,100 shares.

Her favorite comment on her post was, “Where we’re from, Glenn is already famous.”

“I thought, ‘Wow, that’s a really strong comment, you know?’” Meyer said.

Litke said it was interesting to see people’s expressions when they found out he wasn’t in town to capitalize on the situation.

He’s not on Facebook, and he was hesitant to tell his story to the public through the newspaper.

“I’m not too excited about trying to make a deal out of it because, in my mind, it wasn’t that big a deal,” Litke said.

But it was a big deal to Meyer, so now thousands of people know of Litke’s kindness, which he attributes to his Christian faith.

“When it comes to the weather, we were thanking the Lord, first of all, that we didn’t have any serious damage,” Litke said. “But also realize that, if we’re spared, we’re thankful, but at the same time, we tried to lend a helping hand to those who weren’t as fortunate.”

Litke didn’t accept payment, but he was blessed in other ways.

He helped someone he didn’t know for an hour, and when they finished, they introduced themselves. Turns out the man, Trent Voth, was a Tabor graduate, knew Litke’s wife, and they had many other connections, as well.

He also met Halstead resident Ron Chronister, who taught vocal music in Halstead for a lot of years. Chronister remembered Litke because he had judged the Halstead High School choirs at state festivals.

“Here I am working with both of these fellas and had no idea that we all knew each other,” Litke said. “It ended up being a really fun day for me.”

Litke’s influence on Halstead didn’t end when he left town Monday evening. He said someone he knows from Marion called him Tuesday morning, because he saw what Litke had done, and he and his brother were taking their skid steer and grapple to Halstead.

Hillsboro’s Glenn Litke helps a Halstead resident with their limb cleanup after a recent storm.

Meyer said they got their power back on before most of Halstead, and so they paid Litke’s kindness forward by opening their house to other families in town.

Lacey Moon delivered her fourth child three days before the storm. She returned from the hospital on Saturday. Without electricity, Moon and her family suffered in the hot house, and she wasn’t able to pump to breastfeed her baby.

“That really got overwhelming with no power, no AC, trying to take care of three other children and a brand new baby,” Moon said. “And then trying to do all this clean up, and it was just a lot.”

Meyer invited her to stay with them.

“She let me shower. They fed us. They were very generous,” Moon said. “It was amazing. I couldn’t quit thanking them enough for helping us out, because I couldn’t have made it any longer.”

Meyer said that led to a bunch of other people in town coming over.

“They needed electricity to plug in their phones to get ahold of people, and that just led into more people and more people, and we just took all of them in,” Meyer said. “Absolutely all of them. Anybody that came by and needed something to eat, needed to plug their phone in, needed to drop their kid off, needed whatever, we took them all. That was really all that he [Litke] asked us for was to just pay it forward. So we did.”

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