VIROQUA — Anna Wolfson noticed a new kind of poverty when she moved from the suburbs of Chicago to rural Wisconsin.
Rural homelessness was less evident, but people still suffered through the same unpredictability, Wolfson said.
The 18-year-old senior at Laurel High School in Viroqua helped coordinate the school’s yearly fundraiser for Couleecap, an area housing agency. She and other students raised about $4,300 for outreach and support programs for the area’s poor.
“Throughout high school, I’ve become very interested in community service,” Wolfson said. “As I go into college and into the world afterward, I definitely want to keep helping people.”
About 470 students were identified as homeless last year in La Crosse, Crawford, Monroe and Vernon counties, according to Couleecap.
Wolfson and classmate Zoe Brooke Zibton, 18, expanded the scope of the Laurel’s “Poverty Awareness” fundraiser, and donations increase by more than $1,000 from last year as Wolfson and Zibton focused on community outreach and pushed more students to get involved.
“Luckily, this community responded so well,” Zibton said.
Students from both Laurel and Viroqua High School spent a night sleeping outside in the cold, and then attended school the next day.
Money raised goes to Couleecap’s People Helping People fund, which provides a variety of direct services that grants don’t cover, from bus tokens to child care to food, said Kadie Brueggen, spokeswoman for the organization.
“It is so thrilling to see young people who, first of all, care about the topic,” Brueggen said. “And secondly, who care enough to get motivated and get out in their community and do something.”