Pine River-Backus Elementary School students joined forces to raise, penny by penny and dollar by dollar, $9,559 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in January.

Fundraising started with "Pennies for Patients" where students collected donations of change through both physical and electronic means. Through sharing online links alone the students raked in $4,067. A flare was added to the physical fundraising efforts that made the fundraiser not only rewarding but fun.

During the week of Jan. 14-18, each day students in grades K-6 were encouraged to bring different coins each day. Monday was "Pennies in the Pockets Day," when students were encouraged to wear pajamas filled with pennies. On Tuesday, students wore bright neon colors for "Neon Nickel Day." Wednesday they wore shiny and unique clothing for "Dazzling Dime Day." Thursday they got to wear crazy hats for "Crazy Quarters Day." And Friday they were encouraged to bring any denomination of coin or cash for "Tiger Team-up for Leukemia."

"Just in that week our totals were insane," said teacher Erika Norman, who helped organize the event. "Our total was $2,888 in just physical change brought in by students."

Perhaps the best incentive for students was the chance to tape Elementary Principal Rick Aulie to a wall for the "Stuck for a Buck" fundraiser. Students raised $539 for approximately one foot of tape per dollar that was then used to tape Aulie to a wall ahead of the monthly ROAR Rally, held Monday, Feb. 4.

Aulie hung on the wall unsupported by any means from 9:50-10:15 a.m. as the elementary held its ROAR Rally.

"The whole elementary school, K-6, was given the opportunity to bring money in," Norman said. "Most kids brought more than a dollar. Some students brought over $5 and that got distributed to students who didn't bring any money. Most every child got to put something on Mr. Aulie."

For raising so much, the school received a $300 Amazon gift card for school supplies. In addition, for raising $130 the week of Jan. 21-25, the first-grade class earned a bowling trip paid for by the PTA. Finally, because the elementary school beat its goal of raising $2,019, volunteers from the staff will compete in a soccer game Friday, Feb. 8.

"I'm literally flabbergasted at the amount of support we received from families and those who donated," Norman said. "It was huge."

Donations aren't going too far away either. The funds will stay within local states.

"It's a service learning opportunity to raise money for local blood cancer patients in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota," Norman said. "The money donated goes to those struggling with cancer and also helps researchers look for ways to cure blood cancer. It's currently funding researchers in top-notch facilities such as the University of Minnesota, Mayo Clinic in Rochester."

This is the first year PR-B has participated in this fundraiser. Norman expects that the school will participate again in the future, but not likely every year.