West Salem students help De Soto one cent at time - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

West Salem students help De Soto one cent at time

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West Salem High School students are raising funds to help the De Soto School District after major flooding devastated their football field in September. 

When student leadership group Youth Frontiers first heard about the destruction, they knew they needed to help their neighbors to the south. 

"It was a pretty rough deal for everybody around here," Ev Wick, De Soto football coach recalled. 

The team's football field was completely washed out by the heavy rainfall.

"It's pretty bad. That used to be our practice field, where all the sand is and as you can see, there's not much left. There used to be a gravel track around, you can kind of see it," Wick described.

Wick said in his 14 years of coaching he's never seen flooding like this, and still he has no idea what repairs will cost. The School District of De Soto is still working with FEMA to figure out what kind of federal funding they will receive, but for this football season, the field was a total loss.

MORE: De Soto football players lend a hand

That's when Youth Frontiers decided to pay it forward. They asked their peers to spare some pocket change and participate in a penny war.

"Initially we were thinking maybe $40, after the first few days we were like, 'maybe we'll reach $500,' and then we saw that this was going to have a huge turnout," Kaylee Mulholland a senior at West Salem High School.

Each grade attempted to collect as many pennies as possible while sabotaging the other grades with coins and dollar bills. By the end of the two weeks, the students raised over $2,800.

"For us to be able to come together and just help someone that much in need, it's amazing for our school to be able to do that," Carlie Burkhardt, a senior at West Salem High School added. 

It was a goal the Youth Frontiers group thought was well out of reach, but their peers proved otherwise. 

"We are fortunate and truly blessed to live in this community and I think we can all take comfort in the fact that should tragedy strike, natural or otherwise, that people have our backs in this community and they are willing to help out, however far they might be," Ryan Nelson, social studies teacher and Youth Frontiers adviser said. 

It's a lesson in how far a little competition and a lot of compassion can carry young people with a cause.

The students will travel down to De Soto on December 2 to hand over the check in person. 

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