Check presented to La Crosse SOUP’s fall winner

A local crowdfunding initiative is helping an area school expand a service dog program.

The winning pitch at this month’s La Crosse SOUP event was “Paws-itive Influence,” a program to provide a behavioral therapy service dog at Northwoods Elementary.

Special education teacher Heather Stern and her dog Sammie were awarded more than $2518 to help pay for Sammie’s training.

Stern says Sammie has been working at Northwoods since the start of the school year and is already making a big difference with some kids who otherwise might have had behavioral issues in class.

“She’s gone to class with several different kids and has helped,” said Stern. “I hear back from teachers, ‘Yup, they were able to make it, they did all their work.’ I think if she wasn’t there, I think it could’ve been a battle.”

Funding for Sammie’s training also got some help from students at Emerson Elementary, who raised nearly $500 with a lemonade and bake sale.