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'Survivor' students raise $39,000 for charity

Senior Survivor
Posted at 6:52 AM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 14:13:56-05
High School "Survivor" raises money for families

A dozen teenagers raised more than $39,000 for families in their school district.

Seniors at West Ottawa High School played their very own version of the show "Survivor." They camped out at school, cell phone free, but didn't have to brave the natural elements and hardly any food thing.

"You're allowed to bring a one-inch sleeping mat to sleep on like a sleeping bag, pack for the week, we use the locker rooms to like shower and get ready for school. So, it's like camping, but like, at school," said Claire Vellinga, winner of the Senior Survivor challenge at West Ottawa High School.

Vellinga binge-watched the show with her family during Quarantine, and it paid off.

"So, like going in. I was like thinking strategically, like, what can I do to try to like, scheme my guess a little bit," said Vellinga.

During the day, she sold candy, snacks, and food around school to stay on top of the leader board.

"I got a donation from the wooden shoe, they donated cinnamon rolls to me. And those were like a huge hit, because everyone like loved them," said Vellinga.

At night, she strategized. "Then we'd also have an immunity contest after the eliminations at night. So, the immunity would be for the next day. We still had our Chromebooks. So, I could like email, my Mom, and my sister and one night they were like, freaking out because they were like, did you make it past like, eliminations?" said Vellinga.

The competition all for a good cause, the "When In Need West Ottawa" fund. $39,095 is now in that account because of competition, the most in school history.

"I've heard of like, teachers who say, like, if they notice a student who like doesn't have like a winter coat, they can get that for them. If someone like needs glasses, like in like fourth grade, they'll go get them glasses. And then throughout the year, they'll like, keep making sure that they have glasses that fit."

Vellinga continued, "It's crazy what we were able to pull off. And now there's like so much money to help all these people."

Vellinga raised more than $9,000 herself. The "When In Need West Ottawa"fund helps K-12 families in the district all year, most notably, providing holiday gifts.