BLOOMINGTON, Minn. - The shrieks on the roller coaster inside the Mall of America on Thursday were not necessarily from children. Principals from several schools were riding the elevated rails to raise money for their schools during the annual "Give to the Max Day" charity event.
"This year, we have added K-12 public schools to GiveMN. It is new and schools have registered to get on (the list), so we do not have every single school," said Dana Nelson, Give to the Max Executive Director. "We really wanted to promote this as a new giving opportunity for the public and also an awareness-raising for public schools as well."
Principal Jennifer Hetland of the Alliance Education Center in Rosemount admitted to being a little overwhelmed by the multiple speeding trips around the indoor Nickelodean Universe park.
"It was great for the first 13," said Hetland. "On the 14th, I got a little bit queasy."
Surrounded by students and staff, Hetland was excited about the new funding. Her students are "special needs" children in K through 21. "It helps pay for medications, eyeglasses and things like that, things that our regular school budget just will not pay for."
In 2011, the Give to the Max effort raised $13.3 million. Participation was so dramatic on Thursday morning that the website, givemn.org, bogged down from overload.
"I think everyone got into work and got their emails from their favorite non-profits and went to do the right thing and make a gift all at the same time," said Nelson. "The site was operating pretty slowly in the morning right around 8:30, but it stabilized and everybody was back to giving on-line."
With eight hours to go, Give to the Max donations had totaled more than $10 million dollars.
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