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If you raise a flag, you’ll raise money for good causes

Tom and Mary Bednarowski, chairpersons of Avenue of Flags, pose next to an American flag set up under the guidance of the River Falls Optimist Club.

While flags adorn River Falls streets every summer to honor America, some flags will fly this summer in support of local charities.

The River Falls Optimist Club, a local branch that works to benefit children, is hosting its “Avenue of Flags” fundraiser for a second year. More than 100 River Falls residents have donated this summer to the Optimists and sported flags in their yards during holidays. 

“Good ideas aren’t enough in this kind of organization,” said Janell Norman, Optimist board member. “You have to have action. You have to have things you’re actually going to do.”

The group has indeed taken action. It raised $81,000 for various charities through fundraisers, including the Avenue of Flags, pancake breakfasts and bean bag toss. 

It raised $4,500 alone for the STEP program, which employs senior citizens in River Falls schools.

Monique Squire, Community Education coordinator, said the funds placed six workers.

“We’re very happy for the generosity of the Optimist Club,” said Squire.

Squire oversees the STEP program and said it gives students help beyond schoolwork. 

“It has provided a grandparent relationship for some students,” said Squire. “In some perspectives they’re acting as life coaches. The program has really exceeded our expectations.”

Avenue of Flags started with about 30 participants but quickly expanded.

“People saw the flags and heard about the flags and wanted to know how they get in on it and so we’ve morphed into 100,” said Norman.

Boy Scout Troop 457 joined the Optimists this year and will set up and take down flags during the Fourth of July, River Falls Days Parade Day, Labor Day, Sept. 11 and Veterans Day.

While the group has already set up flags for Memorial Day and Flag Day, Norman said people are encouraged to join the fundraiser any time for $35.

Residents living within River Falls School District limits can participate in the flag fundraiser by contacting Tom or Mary Bednarowski at 715-425-9297.

For the complete story, see the June 26 print edition of the River Falls Journal.