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Saint John’s Prep Middle School Students Raise Money for Anna Marie’s Alliance Christmas

Middle School Students Hosted a White Elephant Auction to Make Christmas Special For Families in Need

Saint John’s Preparatory School is proud to congratulate the 7th and 8th grade students for raising over $1,600 for Anna Marie’s Alliance. The students raised the money in just one hour Thursday morning. With the help of Col. Frank Imholte of Black Diamond Auctioneers, the students took part in a “white elephant” auction to raise the funds.

Students learned about the auction process while also helping people in need. Col. Frank Imholte donated his time to lead the bidding process. Students brought festive, wrapped gifts to school and indicated if the gift was for a boy, girl, or either. Col. Imholte taught them how to bid in an auction and encouraged them to think about their purchase before raising their hands. Once they knew how to bid, Col. Imholte lead them through a spirited and competitive auction. Students bid on the gifts without knowing their contents. 

Josh Mertensotto, a 7th grader from Sartell, son of Chris and Anne Mertensotto says, “The auction is something very different than fundraisers at other schools. It’s with an actual auctioneer! I liked it because you get  a lot of funny and unexpected gifts. The auction is a lot of fun and it helps some Anna Marie’s families at Christmas. I feel like the kids at Anna Marie’s will be really happy when they open the presents from us!”

George Vedder, an 8th grader from Sartell, son of Valerie and Timothy Vedder, says “I bought candy, a free lunch made by a teacher and a Superman lamp. The auction is so much fun because you never know what you are going to get. You can’t see into the gift bags and wrapped presents. Colonel Frank is fast! He could be a rapper he does the auction so fast!”

Middle school teacher Dan Stark assisted the auctioneer. Middle school teachers Steve Larson, Pat Dwyer, Susan Kolb and Robert Ellenbecker served as cashiers for the event.  The proceeds will be used to fill the wish lists of two families at Anna Marie’s Alliance. Students will go shopping with the wish lists to find presents and ensure the families have a Merry Christmas. Gifts on the Anna Marie’s wish list range from clothing and toiletries to toys and electronics.

Bob Ellenbecker, the Saint Jonh’s Prep middle school science teacher from St. Joseph says “The auction is a lot of fun because our kids get so into the auction atmosphere. The mystery of the wrapped gifts and gift bags make it very exciting. I think this auction is important because our students recognize why it’s important to help Anna Marie’s. They know it’s an important cause we are supporting. They genuinely want to help families who are facing difficult times.”

Anna Marie’s Alliance provides safety for battered women and children in the nine-county region of Stearns, Benton, Sherburne, Wright, Mille Lacs, Isanti, Kanabec, Chisago and Pine Counties. For more information about Anna Marie’s Alliance go to

Sam Rosenbloom 8th grader from St. Joseph, Daughter of Glenn Werner says, “It’s important to be a part of the auction and help Anna Maries’. Sometimes people can’t get back on their feet by themselves. They can get help from Anna Marie’s without being embarrassed. It’s a lot like a family home and we are helping them have a great Christmas.”

Founded in 1857, Saint John’s Prep is a Catholic/Benedictine, co-ed, private day and boarding school, providing students of all faiths in grades 5-12, with a college-preparatory curriculum.  For more information, visit or call 320-363-3315.