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Richfield's dual language students help Ukrainian refugees

Student leaders held a coin drive. In total, they raised $7,500 in just one week.

RICHFIELD, Minn. — Richfield Dual Language School just raised $7,500 to support Ukrainian refugees — and the majority of it was in coins.

While a teacher suggested the weeklong drive, the elementary school's student council members took lead. In Spanish, they explained the cause to each classroom before fundraising began.

"In lots of schools, there's like signs that say 'no bullying,'" student council secretary Elliana Vinje said. "I feel like Russia is kind of doing that to Ukraine." 

"They have to run away, they have to flee their homes," vice president Alessandra Carrera added. "We can have three meals a day. They most likely cannot. So basically what's a little of our money when they don't have any?"

Each day last week, they collected a different coin. They started with pennies followed by nickels, dimes, quarters, and dollar bills. They also accepted online donations. District spokesperson Jennifer Valley said money will go to CARE, an international organization supporting Ukrainian refugees with food, water, hygiene kits, and other critical resources.

While the classroom with the most money raised earned a movie day with pajamas and popcorn, student leaders say that's not the greatest win.

"It just feels good to help people who need it," council president Alyson Jimenez Jarquin said. "It makes your life kind of more better."

"It makes me feel really good about our community, this school," Vinje added.

Student council advisor and literary coach Sarah Egberb talked about the reason families were willing to give.

"We do like to think of ourselves, especially at the language immersion, as a global community," Egberb said. "We really develop in the students an understanding that what we do here in the United States affects people all around the world and I think our students have just another level of that understanding."

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