Students pinch pennies to raise $2K for residents still recovering from August flooding

It’s been two months since flooding devastated communities in the Coulee Region and many areas are still trying to rebuild. Some La Crosse students wanted to help out by holding a fundraiser for flood victims.

Using pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, Northside Elementary and Coulee Montessori students were able to raise $2,025 for the cause. The families who received the money said they’re grateful for a community that continues to help in their time of need.

On the day of the flood, Jason Franke attempted to save some of his family’s belongings as the floodwater rose up to his house.

“We were throwing what we can from the downstairs to the upstairs,” said Franke, who has children in the school district.

Finally, he had to evacuate with his family. When they returned, he says they found the couch and refrigerator floating in the water.

“Really wasn’t a lot going through my head at the time but, ‘Boy, this is going to be a lot of work,'” Franke said.

It was also going to take a lot of money to make all the repairs. Little did he know, the students at Northside Elementary and Coulee Montessori were collecting loose change for families like his.

“We were seeing all of the pictures of the flooding and the damages and we decided that we wanted to do something to help,” said Laura Moore, a teacher at Northside Elementary School.

Moore was coordinating the effort with Michelle Greenwood, who was a student teacher at the La Crosse School. Now in La Farge, she knew of families that were hit particularly hard by the storm.

“At least two of them were displaced and not living in their house for quite a while so that also made us want to pick them,” said Greenwood, a teacher at La Farge Elementary.

Kristina Orton stayed in a hotel at first because of mold concerns. While they were able to get rid of the mold, they still have a lot of construction.

“We still don’t have the walls or floors. Everything, basically, on the first floor had to be thrown out,” said Orton, who was one of the fundraiser’s recipients.

Orton said the money will likely be used for new flooring, which keeps getting damaged every time it rains.

“And then we just found out the floor joists are breaking so we have to replace them now. And it’s just a mess,” Orton said.

Which is why these families are so thankful because as all the work that needs to be done keeps piling on, this helps lighten the load.

“If it wasn’t for people like these children helping us today, we wouldn’t be able to do it, you know? I don’t know what we’d do without the help of others right now,” Franke said.

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