Austin High School students Quin Brunner, from left, Matt Tylutki, Ethan Johnson, Molly Kestner, Grace Berke and Melissa Navoa gather around a keyboard between classes Monday afternoon to sing along as Andrea Malo, assistant principal and student council adviser, plays a holiday tune. -- Kevin Coss/

Archived Story

Students pool resources, lead activities for charity

Published 8:00am Tuesday, December 11, 2012

It’s not every day students attend class in their pajamas or get their pictures taken with Santa in the lunchroom. But at Austin High School this week, it’s standard fare in the name of charity.

“The Five Days of Giving is something our student leadership groups put together,” said Lisa Quednow-Bickler, activities director with AHS. “Each day, the kids do something different.”

Andrea Malo, assistant principal and student council adviser at Austin High School, plays a holiday tune.

This year, Five Days of Giving events include a 1.1-kilometer holiday run around and through the school building, and a dress-up day where students don red and white like candy canes. Student organizers came up with the ideas as creative ways to raise money for the United Way of Mower County.

“They get very excited,” Quednow-Bickler said. “It’s really great for our kids to see the value of giving back to our community.”

Penny wars, a competitive activity that has each class vying to collect the most change, will also run during the week, and students will play music in the halls between classes for donations.

“It’s just something new we’re trying this year,” said Andrea Malo, assistant principal and student council advisor. Many students are enthusiastic about the music, and a number have volunteered to play their instruments, she added.

Apart from the funds donated to the United Way, the high school is partnering with Toys for Tots to host a toy drive for teenagers. While people often think of Toys for Tots as providing toys to young children, they also give to teenagers.

“Sometimes that population is forgotten,” Quednow-Bickler said.

Suggested gifts include anything a teenager could use, ranging from books to DVDs to perfume, and students aren’t the only ones encouraged to donate. Collection bins will be placed at the entrance of several sporting events this week, and anyone who donates will receive free admission.

“We are hosting quite a few sporting events this week,” Quednow-Bickler said. “We’re hoping our community comes out and supports us well.”

Sporting events where donations are accepted:

Dec. 11 — Girls basketball home against Albert Lea High School; and girls dance at halftime of junior varsity and varsity games

Dec. 13 — Girls gymnastics home vs Mankato East; and Girls hockey home vs. Rochester Mayo

Dec. 14 — Boys basketball home vs. Rochester Mayo

Dec. 15 — Boys hockey home vs. Mankato East

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