Students helping students at the first-ever ‘Hands Across De Pere’ fundraiser

Published: Aug. 29, 2021 at 10:22 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 29, 2021 at 10:23 PM CDT
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DE PERE, Wis. (WBAY) - De Pere’s younger generation is making a difference in their community.

On Sunday, many students volunteered at the ‘Hands Across De Pere’ fundraising event.

A fundraiser that stemmed from three local school social workers forming a new organization, Hands Across De Pere, that helps families in need when other programs or resources fall short.

”Sometimes some students feel down on themselves so Hope Squad kind of helps them lift them up. It makes me feel good when I help other people, so that’s a big part of my life,” said Cooper Anderson, 8th grader at De Pere Middle School.

The total $33,565 raised will support two programs, Hands Across De Pere and Hope Squad, a suicide prevention program in both the Unified School District of De Pere and West De Pere District.

“It’s just to spread kindness throughout our community, as a person, as someone who is in school, I can see a lot of bullying and the Hope Squad has definitely helped prevent that and put it to an amazing cause,” said Abby Kawula, freshman at De Pere High School.

Abby Kawula started baking cupcakes at the beginning of quarantine last year when she says she saw hundreds of people lined up to get food outside of her old middle school.

“We baked 2,000 cupcakes and it was, and we raised over $4,000 to purchase groceries for those families in need,” said Kawula.

She continues to give back with “Abby’s De Pere Cupcake Fundraiser,” baking cupcakes for Sunday’s fundraiser.

”It was just a great opportunity to help others in need and it’s actually really taught me to make a difference in our community even though it doesn’t have to be face-to-face, you can make a huge difference in someone’s life even from your own home,” said Kawula.

More than 400 people gathered at the Swan Club in De Pere to enjoy food, drinks, live music, a silent auction and raffles.

“I have goose bumps thinking of the crowd, our community came out, they stepped up. We promoted it on social media and within our districts and the community wants to help and you know they were always asking how can we help and what can we do to help, and what better way than all of us to come together and be outside on this beautiful day and be able to help our families and help our kids. Our community’s phenomenal and I’m going to tear up because I’m just so proud,” said Michelle Dahlke, a social worker with the Unified School District of De Pere.

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