For students like Ella Mutziger, donating to charities is a way to help see her community grow, and foster a sense of togetherness in Mitchell.

So when Mutzinger’s sophomore English class at Mitchell High School began the process to raise money with their “Fight for the Cause” charity auction, she was a leader in the classroom.

“I wanted to lead a discussion which prioritized a local charity so that we could see the effects right here in our community,” Mutziger said.

Her class chose to donate to Mitchell Area Safehouse and Mutziger is a part of one of the five English classes taught by Madison Miller and April Johnson, who are running the auction for the fifth year in a row. In total, the effort has around 100 students participating.

The process began in October when the classes started writing their research papers. They researched charities of their interest, usually one with which the student has a personal connection. After researching and writing, each student created a presentation that was meant to be memorable in order to convince the other students to vote for their charity.

“One student talked about Wigs for Kids and at the end of her speech, brought another student up and cut her hair in front of the class. That was one charity the kids voted for,” Johnson said.

The four other classes voted for the Children’s Cancer Center, a national charity based out of Florida, the American Diabetes Association, Alzheimer's Research & Prevention Foundation, and Mitchell Area Safehouse.

Next, the students wrote letters to businesses asking for donations to the five charities and have heard back from several, raising $750 so far.

The students are now preparing for the charity auction where they will be auctioning several items, including a one-month membership to the Mitchell Recreation and Indoor Aquatic Center, candy baskets donated by Arnie's at First and Foster, hanging plant decorations donated by Mebius Nursery and Landscaping, and several other items.

The art department will be taking professional pictures of each item and displaying them on the auction’s website.

Anyone will be able to bid on the auction’s website at from Feb. 10-26 starting at 8 p.m. The money raised from the auction will be split equally between the five charities. Along with the money donated by businesses, the funds will be sent to any South Dakota branch the charities have, while the Mitchell Area Safehouse will receive its donation directly.

The students will finish the project in March with thank-you letters to the auction winners and the businesses who participated.

“This project is about coming together as a community in an effort to achieve something and creating an impact that is going to be felt by many people,” Johnson said. “We are expanding more and more each year and we hope that the community will participate as well.”