Middle school raises spirits and funds during Charity Week

Patrick Fisher, Staff Writer

New Prague Middle School students showed they had big hearts during Spirit for Charity Week January 15 to 19. During the week, students helped raise money for several organizations.

The New Prague Middle School Student Council, under the supervision of teacher advisor Jodi Prchal, sponsored the five days of events. The week was kicked off with Pennies for Patients on Monday. Several teachers and students volunteered to have their names placed on collection jars. Those who collected the most money during the lunch periods over the week would have the dubious honor of kissing a pig at a Pep Fest on Friday.

On Tuesday, students had the opportunity to write messages to overseas troops. Angie Lundeen, coordinator of Pennies for Patients, was at the school on Wednesday during the lunch periods. She answered questions from the students about the Lymphoma/Leukemia Society, which Pennies for Patients benefits. Thursday students filled more than 12 bags with groceries for the Peace Center, New Prague's local food shelf.

Friday had two events, Hats for Hope, where students could wear a hat during the school day with a donation, and the Pep Fest, held in the morning. It was announced at the Pep Fest that $520 was raised for Pennies for Patients with sixth-grade teacher Jeremy Biermaier and seventh-grade student Taltson Olexin collecting the most from the volunteers. Biermaier brought in $43.05, while Olexin collected $110.60.

Rochelle Widmer and her mother, Julie, provided the pig from their family farm. Rochelle held the 50-day old, 50-pound Yorkshire Landrace cross pig, while Olexin went first. He enthusiastically kissed the animal's cheek, while his hot dog-shaped hat bounced on his head. On Biermaier's turn, he gave the pig a peck on the other cheek.

The $615 raised through Hats for Hope will go toward Kyle's Shooting Star Foundation. It is named for Kyle Lunder, a New Prague resident who died at age 5 after a two-year battle with cancer. His mother, Heidi Whipple, founded the organization. She expressed her gratitude to the students for their participation during the Pep Fest. The foundation helps families coping with cancer by providing resources that assist them in meeting basic quality of life needs.

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