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Coins collected for Christmas for Kids - Students learn valuable lessons

Students at Eagle View Elementary School and Pequot Lakes Middle School raised enough money in one week to donate $3,320 worth of toys to the Christmas for Kids program, thanks to lots of group effort and a few exceptionally generous student dona...

Nolan Hall, Jaxon Woodman, Luke Laposky and Tade Magnuson shop for toys to donate to Christmas for Kids as part of Eagle View Elementary School's initiative Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Walmart in Baxter.
Nolan Hall, Jaxon Woodman, Luke Laposky and Tade Magnuson shop for toys to donate to Christmas for Kids as part of Eagle View Elementary School's initiative Wednesday, Nov. 28, at Walmart in Baxter. Submitted Photo
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Students at Eagle View Elementary School and Pequot Lakes Middle School raised enough money in one week to donate $3,320 worth of toys to the Christmas for Kids program, thanks to lots of group effort and a few exceptionally generous student donations.

From Nov. 12-20, fourth- through eighth-grade classes participated in a friendly-yet-fierce fundraiser competition. A select group of students then used the money gathered to buy a variety of toys and goodies for families in need.

Fourth-graders at Eagle View competed individually. For every quarter a student brought in, they received one ticket to enter in a drawing, which determined which 10 students got to go shopping for the toys.

The fourth-grade classes earned a total of $1,320, the largest total Eagle View has ever collected.

"It's electrifying in the mornings during the competition," said Eileen Nelson, social worker at Eagle View and coordinator of the Christmas for Kids fundraiser. "We hear so many good things from the kids."

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One fourth-grader, Jaxon Woodman, went above and beyond this year, bringing in $300. He had already decided to bring in $100 from his personal savings account, and said he was pleasantly surprised to learn that his mother and grandmother each wanted to match that amount.

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" I wanted to bring in that much money because I had never really done anything else big for a fundraiser before." - fourth-grader, Jaxon Woodman

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"I wanted to bring in that much money because I had never really done anything else big for a fundraiser before," said Woodman.

He said that donating felt even better when he had his family's contributions added to his own.

"I didn't think I was going to bring $300," he said.

Nelson laughed when she recalled the day Woodman submitted his contribution and entered his name in the raffle.

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"At one ticket for every 25 cents, his name was in that drawing quite a few times," she said.

PLMS participates in the same program, but that school's fundraiser competition kicks it up a notch. Each grade level participates in a "penny challenge," using strategy to end up with the greatest total points and win a movie trip.

Donated pennies count as positive points for a student's grade level, while silver coins count as negative points. Students can drop these coins of higher value into opponents' donation buckets to deduct from their total points. Checks and paper money can be used to either add to one's own total or sabotage another at the donor's choice.

After one week of competition, PLMS earned $2,118.55. The school kept $2,000 for Christmas for Kids and sent the remaining $118.55 to the Lakes Area Food Shelf.

"On Friday, the office is packed with last-minute donations," said Grace Balfanz, math teacher and student council adviser at PLMS. "It makes me really proud of my students and my school."

The seventh-graders won the penny challenge, with special thanks to Griffin Hoffman, who brought $200 of his own money he saved while working at his family's business.

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" I thought it was going for a good cause and everything, plus that extra reward of going to the movies. And I like the cause that it's going to, that it's all for kids." - seventh grader, Griffin Hoffman

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"I thought it was going for a good cause and everything, plus that extra reward of going to the movies," said Hoffman. "And I like the cause that it's going to, that it's all for kids."

Hoffman said his mom went to the bank and took out the full $200 in single bills.

"It was pretty cool to hold that much money," he said.

On Nov. 28, after the fundraisers ended, the winners of the fourth-grade raffle and the middle school student council set off for a day of toy shopping at Walmart in Baxter.

The kids separated into groups and were each given between $425 and $500 to spend, along with a calculator and list of items requested by the Christmas for Kids program. Each group needed to try to use all of its money exactly.

"The learning that occurs is so cool," said Nelson. "They comparison shop, they look at how much things cost - 'If we get this we can only buy one thing, but with these we can get two.' They have to keep track of that total."

Woodman said his group bought sleds, footballs, soccer balls, toy tractors and trucks and LEGO sets, among other items.

"It makes me feel pretty good to help," he said.

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" It makes me feel pretty good to help." - fourth-grader, Jaxon Woodman

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At the very end of the day, the shoppers returned to PLMS to meet Christmas for Kids coordinator Corrie Craig on a bus filled to the ceiling with more than 200 toys.

"These are great lessons for the kids," said Balfanz. "There's more to life than just what you know academically. It shows these kids' big hearts."

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Seventh-grader Griffin Hoffman shows off $200 in single bills that he donated to Christmas for Kids from his own savings. Submitted Photo

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