Caring House honors student for good deeds — and good cookies

ELLA DEROCHE, A Florence County School District sixth-grade student, was the first recipient of the Caring House’s Student of the Year Award. She was recognized for “Making the World A Better Place.” Presenting DeRoche with her award from left are Donna Fayas, Florence and Iron County outreach advocate; Bob Sauld, Caring House board chairman; Caring House Executive Director Cheryl O’Neil; and Selene Gonzalez, Wisconsin child and family advocate. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

FLORENCE, Wis. — Ella DeRoche has been tapped as the first recipient of the Caring House’s Student of the Year Award.

The 12-year-old, a sixth-grade student this past school year in the Florence County district, was recognized by the Iron Mountain shelter for “Making the World A Better Place.”

Representatives from the Caring House surprised DeRoche during the school’s DARE graduation. “She didn’t know we were doing this,” said Bob Sauld, Caring House board chairman. “Once she saw us in the gym, I think she had an idea what we were there for, by the smile on her face.”

DeRoche surely defines what the new award stands for — doing good for others and the community. She, along with her mother, Jesy DeRoche, baked more than 100 batches of “Ella’s Dozen” chocolate chip cookies — actually 15 per order — in October, which was Domestic Violence Awareness Month, to raise almost $2,000 for the Caring House.

She found a way to use her love of baking and incorporate it into something to help people in the community. She chose the Caring House as her charity, as she wanted to help raise awareness of domestic violence.

ELLA DEROCHE MAKING her special recipe chocolate chip cookies in October to benefit the Caring House shelter in Iron Mountain during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. (Terri Castelaz/Daily News photo)

“She made cookies and made cookies and made cookies,” Caring House Executive Director Cheryl O’Neil said, “and sold them and sold them and sold them.” In all, DeRoche produced more than 1,500 cookies.

DeRoche was astounded that so many people acknowledged her efforts. “Things escalated so quickly, I didn’t have much time to think of what a big deal it was,” DeRoche said.

With all her hard work, she was able to raise the funds to help the young people who were staying at the Caring House continue with their school work during the COVID-19 shutdown. “These kids left their homes without their iPads and necessary things to continue with their virtually learning,” Sauld explained.

“I wasn’t planning on receiving so much praise, because I did the fundraiser to help people — not for me, but for those who needed to see that there are kind people in this world,” DeRoche said.

“I love knowing that I could have impacted someone’s life by simply selling cookies.”

Sauld said that after witnessing what DeRoche accomplished, they decided it was important to start recognizing student efforts in the area.

“Ella has really demonstrated what good citizenship is all about,” O’Neil said. “We can’t be any prouder and thank her any more for what she did.”

The Caring House offers free and confidential services for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking. For more information, call 906-774-1112.


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