Brian Nicholson, Deseret Morning News
Riverton High student body officers count donated money Tuesday.

RIVERTON — What would you do with $70,000 cash?

Riverton High students — who raised every dime in three weeks, plus another $10,000 worth of donated items, from paper to a piano — are giving it away.

The unprecedented $80,159.08 they raised is going to the Center for Women and Children in Crisis, based in Provo.

The fund-raiser comes as part of the Silverwolves' annual Silver Rush, where students select a cause, learn about it in class and host hordes of fund-raisers that reach out to an entire community.

"It's Riverton's greatest tradition by far," said Trevor Sharp, student body officer over student recognition. "It brings the whole student body together. Students are saying, 'I'm part of this.' ... Instead of trying to get a big number (of cash donations), it's, 'How can I help these people and this issue?"'

Students this year decided to take up domestic violence prevention.

In a school survey of 900 students, about 30 percent reported they have been in some way involved in domestic abuse, be it sexual, emotional or physical, either in their own home or a dating relationship, said Garrett McMullin, student body officer over finances

"I learned how big of an issue this was," he said. "It kind of shocked me."

The Center for Women and Children in Crisis offers basic domestic violence shelter services, a children's program, continued support including therapy and access to food and clothing, transitional housing, prevention education, sexual assault services and outreach services.

Students have been working with center workers and patrons, learning their needs, how they address issues and their future projects, including a housing development, student president Dallas Osborne said.

At school, teachers and students talked about domestic violence in homeroom class twice a week during the three-week Silver Rush. They participated in numerous fund-raisers, from community caroling to camping out in sub-freezing temperatures to knocking on doors and asking to do odd jobs for donations, including gift wrapping and snow shoveling.

"These kids haven't hardly slept," said Nancy Webster, Riverton High public relations coordinator.

Thursday, student leaders announced in an assembly how much they'd raised, with help from children assisted through the center.

"People with the shelter were sitting with me, and they were just floored. They were sobbing," Webster said. "Kids were rushing the stand, they were sobbing, everyone — tears just everywhere. How many people can raise $80,000 in a three-week period of time?"

Student government adviser and teacher Nate Justis says he enjoyed talking to students about the issue and listening to their ideas about prevention. But Thursday's culmination was the best.

"Some students told me about some decisions they've made because they've learned about abuse and why it happens," Justis said. "I thought, if one student chooses to live a better life because of what we've done, that is worth so much more than any money we could ever raise. That's when it really hit me, what we were doing here and what we were accomplishing. It's been really awesome to be a part of that."

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