Pink plastic birds raise funds for Spanish Club trip
“Flocks and flocks of the pink birds have flown south, meaning the flocking has come to an end. It is with the utmost gratitude that the MHS Spanish Club would like to thank all the businesses and the many individuals that have donated this spring and summer to our flamingo fundraising efforts. Without your support this fundraiser would not have been a success. We hope you enjoyed it as much as the students did! Our many thanks for all your kind words. The support was sincerely appreciated.” -MHS Spanish Club
Students in the Merrill High School Spanish Club spent the spring and summer stealthily shuttling flocks of pink flamingos around the Merrill area. The bright pink birds were a common sight around the Merrill area over the past several months – you never knew where they were going to pop up next.
Sherry Schuelke, one of the parent volunteers who coordinated the “flocking,” estimated that the flamingos invaded over 300 yards throughout the operation.
The flamingo flocking raised about $6,000 for the students who are going on a trip to Spain in March 2019. People would pay to have the birds put on somebody’s lawn; pay to get them off their own lawn; pay to find out who put them on their lawn; and pay a “no narc” fee to protect their identity when sending the birds to someone else. Many even made additional donations.
With the popularity of the fundraiser, the birds were in demand and always had a new place to land.
“People really got into it,” Schuelke said.
The students who participated worked on the fundraiser by moving the flamingos from place to place under cover of darkness. For each “drop” they did, the students earned money toward their trip.
The stealthy students started their flocking shifts at 9 p.m. The goal was to not be seen; the residents should be shocked to see flamingos on their lawn in the morning.
The flocking was meant to be fun, Schuelke noted, and for the most part the flock-ees got the joke.
“A lot of people said we brightened their day,” Schuelke said. “Some people complained that we didn’t leave the birds long enough.”
The birds typically were put out in flocks of 15. For a drop at the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Office, however, all 105 flamingos banded together.
Local businesses got into flocking wars with one another. Merrill Community Bank ended up being the biggest contributor to the fundraiser.
“I was surprised at all the business participation,” Schuelke said.
The students enjoyed the camaraderie of the covert missions and the challenge of not getting caught. The group of parent volunteers also had fun while putting a lot of time into the fundraiser. Schuelke, along with fellow Spanish Club parents Kristy Dresen, Jackie Fox and Laura Krause, became the “mother flockers,” coordinating the movement of the flamingos throughout the fundraiser.
Seventeen students and three teachers from Merrill High School will be traveling to Spain next spring. They will visit Toledo, Granada, Madrid and Segovia.
More than $10,000 has been fundraised for the trip so far, with the flamingo flocking raising the most money, followed by selling Vande Walles candy bars and fudge from Fun Factory Sweet Shoppe of Rhinelander. The students have also held a dinner night at Los Mezcales, worked at the Wisconsin River Pro Rodeo and sold pies and root beer floats.
“There has been great student participation in the fundraisers with every student raising funds in multiple fundraising events,” noted MHS Spanish teacher Susan Jaeger. “The student who has fundraised the most has been able to pay for over one-third of the cost of the trip.
“There has been a very active parent group who has put in a great deal of effort which is tremendously appreciated,” Jaeger added.
The next fundraising activity for the trip will be at the Rock Island Xpress Snowmobile Club annual banquet on Oct. 20. Vande Walles candy bar sales are ongoing.