It’s that time of year again at Meyer Middle School. The annual Penny Wars fundraiser was held from Nov. 14-18 where students competed to raise money for the River Falls Food Pantry. 

The rules of the fundraiser are simple. 

During the week of the Penny Wars each teacher advisor has a jar. The jars are organized by grade and color based on which “house” the student is in.

Each advisory competes against their house and grade level by collecting money. Students drop off money in their jar every morning. As the week progresses, the war becomes a game of strategy.

Students can drop off coins or bills in other advisories after seeing how well they are performing. The coins and bills counted as negative contributions, allowing students to target other advisories.

At the end of the week the advisory with the highest net total wins. The winning advisory gets rewarded by unloading the donated goods at the food pantry. Students also participate in a dodgeball match in the afternoon.

Besides raising money students are encouraged to bring in food and personal care items. Those goods get donated to the food pantry too.

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The class that raised the most money was rewarded by unloading the goods at the food pantry. Students raised 1703 pounds of goods, the second best total to date. Sam Fristed/Star-Observer.

Aaron Boche is a special education teacher at the middle school who helps run the event. He said the fundraiser picks up during the last two days.

“The donations are slow the first three days. Once we get to Thursday and Friday that’s when you see the totals get crazy,” he said.

At the pantry students worked as a team to unload boxes of goods from staff vehicles. Students took the carts to a weighing station before giving them to pantry workers who would unload them.

After all the carts were weighed the calculator was put to work. Anticipation built as students and staff waited to hear the final number.

The grand total was 1,703 pounds of goods.

It is the second highest total in the fundraiser’s history. To put that number in perspective the average middle school student weighs 70 pounds. While it is an unusual unit of measurement, the total weight of the goods equals about 25 middle school students.

On the monetary side students were presented with a large check. Boche read the total before handing over the check. 

“This year we raised $8,344, our second highest total ever,” he said as the students and staff members cheered.

The winning class this year was Zannah Esteb’s sixth grade class.

Boche said the numbers this year are “incredible.” He is amazed every year by the growing totals.

“I’m happy and proud of our students. They work really hard and they get to see it when they visit the pantry,” he said.

This is the tenth year of the fundraiser. Every year has seen an increase in donated goods and money raised.

In the last 10 years the school has raised over $64,000 for the pantry including the totals from this year. The school has donated over 13,000 pounds of goods to the pantry.

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