County Post article inspires Penny Challenge
By Angie Landsverk
The money Chain O’ Lakes Elementary students dropped into buckets during its school-wide Penny Challenge will help the family of former Chain School students.
Tracie Carrick and her family will receive $700 from the school.
“We just hope we can help them in some small way. Even though they’re no longer students at the Chain, they’ll always be part of the Chain family,” said Lori Zelinske, who teaches first grade at the school.
Carrick, of Scandinavia, received a breast cancer diagnosis in January.
On Oct. 7, her husband Randy passed away from a massive brain aneurysm.
Carrick has four children.
Her oldest son, Adam, is married and living on his own. Her other three children – 18-year-old Hunter, 16-year-old Noah and 14-year-old Kasanda – are at home with her.
Carrick has medical debt and is in need of help.
A story about the family appeared on the front page of the Nov. 12 issue of the Waupaca County Post.
It inspired the school’s students and staff to give the money it raised from its Penny Challenge to the family.
Each year, the Chain School’s Penny Challenge takes place during the week before Thanksgiving.
“We always try to choose a local family in need,” Rhonda Hare, the school’s principal.
Some years, families who have students in the school have been in need and were the recipients of the money raised, she said.
“This year, there were no families in need at the Chain. The plan had been that the winning class would choose a local charity,” Hare said. “In the meantime, the news article came out. The teachers guided them (the students), so the fever pitch started.”
During the Penny Challenge, a penny dropped into a classroom’s bucket counts in a positive way, while silver coins and paper bills count in a negative way toward the classroom’s total.
“They use their strategies. We count every day,” Zelinske said.
Due to the amount of silver coins and paper bills contributed, each class ended in the “negative.”
Since Zelinske’s class was the least in the negative, it was deemed the winner of this year’s Penny Challenge.
“Our class represents the giving of everybody at the Chain School,” Zelinske said. “The Waupaca Way is caring about our community.”
The contributions actually totaled $699.60.
“The counter added 40 cents to make it an even $700,” Hare said.
She said this year’s Penny Challenge was a great experience for the students, as they were raising money to help former students of the school.
“It took them half an hour to count 3,612 pennies that they put in stacks of 10,” Zelinske said of her class. “Their eyes kept getting bigger and bigger. Some were counting by 10s. All of the classes were doing that.”
The mother of one of her students also helped raise money by putting buckets out where she works, Zelinske said.
Lori Wolff teaches kindergarten at the Chain School and hoped her class would win the challenge, but it came up short.
“I had Hunter Carrick as a kindergartner years ago, and his family has a special place in my heart,” she said.
Wolff said her class had a blast with “money math” all week as they sang a money song, sorted coins, counted pennies into 10-frames and learned to count by 10s and 2s every day to find the total in their bucket.
There are 131 students at the Chain School, including two 4K classes, which also participated in this year’s Penny Challenge.
“Even though we’re the smallest school, we can make a big different in peoples’ lives,” Zelinske said.
Others wanting to help the Carrick family may visit gofundme.com/6w6eu954 or mail a donation to Tracie Carrick, E2554 Silver Lake Road, Scandinavia, WI 54977.