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Third-graders raise money for Kids Club Fund

St. Croix Central Elementary School third-graders (left to right)MacKenna Kusilek, Ella Fern and Alexis Epstein worked together to make and sell homemade bracelets, bookmarks and fortune-tellers the week of Feb. 28 and the week of March 11. The girls also gave each of their customers a raffle ticket. The first week's raffle prize was a free bracelet, fortune-teller and bookmark. They raffled off a stuffed bunny (pictured) the week of March 11.

When three third-grade girls came to St. Croix Central Elementary School Principal Steve Sanders asking if they could sell homemade bracelets, fortune-tellers and bookmarks to raise money for the school, he said yes.

"I said, 'Well, you need to get your inventory ready,'" Sanders said.

Nine-year-olds Ella Fern, Alexis Epstein and MacKenna Kusilek were given two separate weeks during which they could sell their wares for 25 cents a piece to raise money that will be donated to the Kids Club fund. The girls said they got started on the project doing crafts on days they had inside recess. It was Epstein, they said, who had the idea to sell their crafts to support the school.

"Whenever I make someone else feel good, it makes me feel good," Epstein said. "It's good to know that someone else is happy because of what you've done."

When Epstein brought the idea to her mother, Holly Epstein said she was pleasantly surprised her daughter wanted to give back to her school.

"I'm just proud they took something that, to adults, may seem simplistic, but they knew what their peers wanted and were able to help raise money based on their ideas," Holly Epstein said.

Fern braided bracelets from string and beads, Alexis Epstein made folded-paper fortune-tellers and Kusilek made bookmarks.

Kim Dale, Fern's mother, helped Fern make bracelets.

"We had a lot of fun with it," Dale said. She said she was impressed by the school's response to the girls' fundraiser idea.

"I thought it was very nice that they worked with the girls and made it happen," Dale said. "The girls got to do something that they felt was very important but the school also supported it."

Kusilek's mother, Helen, helped her daughter make bookmarks. She said the girls have learned a lot about friendship and working together to help others from their experience.

"I am so proud of these girls for doing something like this," Helen Kusilek said. "Coming up with this idea on their own and running with it was a big deal."

In addition to making bracelets, fortune-tellers and bookmarks at home, the girls stayed in at recess to increase their stock. They also had help from fellow students Kaitlyn DeLong, Grace Mansell and Katie Gostovich.

Sanders said there isn't an official count on the money yet, but the girls took in approximately $65 in their first week of selling, Feb. 25 - 28. The girls did not sell Friday, March 1, because the school store was in operation that day.

The girls took a week off to replenish their stock, which was all but gone and began their second and final week of sales March 11.

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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