ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Students and parents of the Alpenglow Elementary School community rolled out the age-old lemonade stand, selling refreshments on a sunny 4th of July holiday to raise money to repair their school following a break-in and vandalism spree Saturday.
All sales went straight to Alpenglow Elementary, with students sending a message to vandals that they will not dampen the school's spirit.
"The reason why we were selling stuff is because we were trying to stop the vandalism and rebuild our school back the way it was," Alpenglow Elementary School student Riley Gustafson said.
"The school is special,” Alpenglow Elementary School student Chloe Gustafson said. “Because it [the vandals] vandalized our school for no reason."
When Heidi Gustafson heard her children's school had been vandalized, she didn’t know how to react at first.
"Frankly, we were shocked,” she said. “As the neighborhood really close to our school, our kids love the school more than words, and it was really heartbreaking for all of us to know somebody would've done this."
Gustafson sat her kids down to explain what had happened, and the gears of their creative minds started turning, thinking of a way to give back to their school.
"So, they actually came up with the idea of ‘Well, let's open up a lemonade stand and let's see what we can do to help our school,’” she said.
Gustafson said so many people turned out that they actually ran out of refreshments.
“We never dreamed it was going to get this big," she said.
By the end of their 3-hour shift, the team of young fundraisers brought in $3,000. Gustafson said people are continuing to reach out on Facebook to donate. She said they plan to keep raising money for the school through future events.
In a statement to Channel 2, Anchorage School Board President Starr Marsett said “It is no surprise to me that our students and community would roll up their sleeves and go to work to support their school. I am extremely proud to be a school board member in a community where we all work together to do what needs to be done in times of need.”
Gustafson said she's also happy the fundraiser was so successful.
“In reality, we thought we were going to open a little lemonade stand and feed a few neighborhood kids lemonade," Gustafson said.
The fundraiser was a small idea that Gustafson says is sending a big message to school vandals.
"Our kids love our schools. And you're not going to keep us down,” she said. “You're not going to keep these little kids down."
On Tuesday, Anchorage Police arrested a juvenile suspect in connection with the vandalism of Alpenglow Elementary School.
According to APD, evidence gathered at the scene lead police to a male teenager believed to be responsible for the crime.
Charges have been forwarded to the Department of Juvenile Justice.