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North Dakota school raises $1,000 for Montana wildfire relief

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In a season full of natural disasters including Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma, students in the tiny North Dakota town of Max decided it was time to do something to help. 

Led by their student council, the school launched a coin drive to raise money for disaster victims. At first they considered helping those displaced by hurricanes in places like Miami and Houston, but then they changed their minds.

“We originally had the idea to help with flooding in Texas, but then we talked about it and thought Montana with all the fires going on there might be better because it was closer to home,” said junior Christina Bingham, a member of the student council and a co-chairmain of the coin drive. “We knew you guys weren’t getting much attention compared to the hurricanes so we decided to raise money for Montana.”

The 180 students in grades kindergarten through high school raised more than $1,000, which they donated to the Montana Red Cross for wildfire relief. They had a friendly competition, with the elementary and high school classes who raised the most money each getting a pizza party. The second-graders and the seniors came out on top.

“I was really surprised the seniors won,” Bingham said.

The students introduced an interesting twist on the coin drive – classes could sabotage one another by putting paper money in other classes’ collection cans. A $1 bill in their collection can, for example, meant that class couldn’t count $1 in coins toward their total.

“They really got into it and did a nice job with it,” student council adviser Cory Nordquist said.

During an unprecedented wildfire season, Red Cross of Montana and its volunteers opened 18 wildfire shelters in all corners of state, offering 188 overnight stays and serving more than 1,000 meals. More than 1.2 million acres burned across Montana, including the Lodge Pole Complex fire near Jordan, which burned 270,000 acres, and the Rice Ridge fire, which consumed 100,000 acres northeast of Seeley Lake.  Sixteen primary homes were lost.

If you would like to donate to Montana disaster relief, visit, call 800-ARC-MONT or send a check to Montana Red Cross, 1300 28th St. S., Great Falls, MT 59405. Write Montana disaster relief on the subject line.