Michael Martin photo

Alyssa McCathie, Madison Gabbers, Macie Frederick and Milena Moit, from left, took matters into their own hands and raised $334 for families affected by the shooting in Newtown, Ct., by going door to door singing Christmas carols.


From the La Crosse Tribune

January 03, 2013 11:24 am  •  By MICHAEL MARTIN |

Holmen Rotary Club member Scott Ryan got a huge surprise at the Rotary Lights display in La Crosse on Dec. 22. That Saturday evening, Holmen freshman Alyssa McCathie walked up and handed Ryan an envelope containing well over $300 in cash.

“I probably freaked her out,” Ryan said. “My eyes got as big as silver dollars, and I was just speechless. I think my heart grew three sizes — it was such a wonderful gift.”

The mission of Rotary Club is community service and McCathie is part of the Rotary Interact Club at the Holmen High School. Ryan is the adviser of that group and, a few days earlier, he and students in the club had been kicking around ideas of what kind of service project they could get involved in. The discussion occurred right around the time of the school shooting in Newtown, Conn.

“We decided to do something for the Newtown folks, but none of the ideas we came up with gained any traction,” Ryan said.

That’s why he was doubly surprised when McCathie gave him the envelope with $334 and told him that she and three of her friends had raised the money on their own by soliciting donations in return for singing Christmas carols.

“I was just blown away,” Ryan said.

McCathie explained that she had help from fellow students Madison Gabbers, Macie Frederick (and her mother Trina) and Milena Moit. All three girls live in the Westwood Hills neighborhood and go to Holmen Middle School.

Accompanied by Trina, the four girls first sang carols in their immediate neighborhood. After that they drove to Onalaska and tried their luck around the country club.

“Most of the people were nice,” Alyssa said. “Most of them were happy to give. We told them we were caroling to raise money for the families affected by the shooting in Connecticut and if they’d like to donate that would be great.”

“They were pretty thankful,” Macie said.

Alyssa’s mother, Karen, said she is very proud of her daughter and the other girls. “When they got home and told me how much money they’d raised, I was amazed. I told them ‘You weren’t even gone that long.’”

For his part, Ryan said it was a wonderful Christmas gift. “This is exactly what I want to teach them in terms of generosity and community service.”

Ironically, Karen said that when Macie and her mother first suggested going caroling, not all the girls even knew what caroling was. “But they really got a kick out of this,” she said. “I think it might become a regular thing.”