The Nevis School held two Hat Days to raise funds for the Joe and Jenny Rittgers family.
The $1,760 raised by the event, a student council project at the school, will be used to rebuild the family home and replace belongings lost in the Feb. 13 fire.
Joe is a School Liaison/Resource Officer with the Park Rapids Police Department and Jenny is the Nevis School Nurse. They have two young boys who attend school in Nevis.
She said she was touched by all the support from the school and the community.
“Thank you so much for all the support given to my family during such a difficult time in our lives,” she said. “You have made things so much easier for us. We are so lucky to be surrounded by such a large community. The lessons taught at Nevis Public School about empathy, kindness and giving will go far beyond our students’ years of study here on Nevis.
She described the process they are currently going through with insurance and future reconstruction as overwhelming.
“We’re just trying to reach a new normal,” she said.
They stay in a family cabin until they are able to rebuild their three-bedroom house.
Rittgers said all of the contractors they contacted told them they had jobs booked in a year and a half to two years.
“We’re working on detailing our home to figure out what we’re working with in terms of money,” she said. “We have to detail everything in our house for insurance. This is the most important thing now. Unfortunately, we were underinsured. With inflation and the cost of construction, we are about $80,000 short if we were to build exactly what we had.
She said some materials are also difficult to obtain or have excessive wait times.
According to the Rittgers Rebuild GoFundMe page, $23,750 of the $50,000 goal had been raised, as of March 7. To view the page, visit www.gofundme.com/f/help-the-rittgers-rebuild.
A family benefits account has also been set up at Northwoods Bank, and donations will be accepted at both Park Rapids and Nevis locations in the lobby or drive-up. Make checks payable to Benefit of Rittgers Family. If you are mailing checks, the address is Northwoods Bank, PO Box 112, Park Rapids, MN, 56470.
Donations for the Rittgers Rebuild Fund can also be brought to the Nevis School Office or to Shelly Walsh at the Park Rapids Area High School Office. Gift cards from area stores to help the family replace clothing and other items are also welcome.