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Flood Of Change

flood-changeStory and photos by: Sarah Almond

Two months have passed since Colorado’s historic flooding damaged thousands of homes, lives and businesses. In the aftermath, tales came rushing in of valiant volunteer efforts, heroic rescue workers and impressive, resilient communities. Even now, as roads and businesses reopen and “No-Flush Zones” diminish, stories of bravery, leadership and camaraderie remain.

Take, for example, Sophie Stemler of Jefferson County, Colorado. After learning her family and friends lost their homes in the flood, she made the decision to help in any way she could. Her “help” resulted in a $10,200 donation to the Estes Park area.

Sophie Stemler is only 8-years-old.

Being so young, she was too small to do any physical volunteer work.

“The flood damage really struck a cord with Sophie,” said Jodi Stemler, mother of Sophie Stemler. “She wanted to do something to help. We brainstormed ideas and decided to collect spare change at Sophie’s elementary school.”

“How would I feel?” She asked herself. “What would I want people to do if this happened to me?”

After discussing the idea with the school principal and writing up a formal proposal, Sophie Stemler’s fundraiser was finally approved and partnered with West Ridge Elementary School’s Kids Care Club. She deemed the fundraiser “Flood of Change” and even designed a logo. Soon, every classroom at West Ridge was battling to be the class with the biggest spare-change collection.

“They collected change all week,” explained Jodi Stemler. “One day they had Hat Day where students could wear a hat if they donated change, even a penny.”

“During Hat Day, one of my friends donated $20!” proclaimed Sophie Stemler.

The fundraiser didn’t stop at the schools, however. Sophie Stemler spoke with the organizer of the Southwest Plaza Farmers Market who gave her permission to set up a table and collect spare change from market attendees. Jennifer Allen, owner of Nella’s Frozen Yogurt, allowed her to fundraise from the shop and also donated free frozen-yogurt cards to the class that raised the most money.

As if fundraising at the school, the farmers market and the local fro-yo joint weren’t enough, Sophie Stemler and her mother also set up a table at the Dakota Ridge High School Craft Fair. She had arranged to use a change counting machine at the local bank and, after counting the earnings, discovered Flood of Change collected close to $1,100 in one weekend.

“I was really tired,” said Sophie Stemler, “but it was worth it.”

The amount raised over the weekend, combined with the $851 dollars raised at West Ridge Elementary, equated to over $2,000. The fundraiser was such a great success that students at Powderhorn Elementary School in Littleton also participated in the Flood of Change, raising close to $1,400.

Sophie Stemler took the combined $3,400 raised through Flood of Change to both the Bohemian Foundation and the Bank of Colorado in Estes Park who pledged to match the relief funds she raised. Through Kids Care Club, the Flood of Change fundraiser wrote a check for $10,200 to the Community Foundation of Northern Colorado with a specific fund for the Estes Park and Canyon Communities.

“The hardest part was keeping up with my homework,” explained Sophie Stemler. “But I am really proud of how much we raised. And a little surprised too.”

“The coolest part about it was watching Sophie work so hard,” said Jodi Stemler. “She did all the work on her own. It was truly inspirational.”


© 2014 Estes Park News, Inc

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