Carlton’s Flapjack Fiasco Fundraiser for St. Jude Hospital Adapts Amid Pandemic

10th annual pancake breakfast ditches the pancake and the breakfast, with volunteers using long-handled buckets to collect cash from cars.

CARLTON, Minn.- COVID-19 couldn’t put a kabash on the Flapjack Fiasco Fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, which ditched the pancakes for a drive-by donation collection on Sunday.

The four corners of the intersection of Highway 210 and 45 were flanked by neon vests, stopping cars as they drove by.

“We made some buckets on a piece of bamboo so you can reach out and not get close to people,” said Kevin Koen, founder of Harold’s Flapjack Fiasco.

“And we’re just handing these out towards the cars and they’re throwing money in it, and away they go,” he said.

This would have been the Flapjack Fiasco’s 10th year, and members of the community showed they didn’t need pancakes to continue supporting cancer research.

“Great idea,” Jeremy Axtell said. “We came to this every year when it’s at Four Seasons. But obviously they can’t hold it this year. So we’re driving by to go up to Jay Cooke and decided to donate.”

Every year the pancake breakfast, along with the golf fundraiser in August and Hog Roast in September, raise a little over $30,000.

In the five hours the group was out Sunday morning, their social distance buckets were working hard, filling a cooler with cash. “In a small community like this, that’s pretty amazing,” said Koen.

“And given the fact that a lot of people are out of work now but are still willing to donate, I think that’s really nice,” he said.

But handling cash in the wind is a little harder than flipping pancakes. Volunteers had to rush to grab the bills as they left drivers’ hands–but the wind beat some to it.

“There’s been some fives and tens flying down the street, but we’ve caught every one so far,” said Koen.

Despite those minor setbacks, the fundraiser gave drivers hope to see the creative method for a good cause.

“It was nice,” said Jeremy’s son, Blake. “It was nice what they did, yeah.”

According to organizers, it was no question that the fundraising effort for St. Jude had to go on.

“The cancer for the kids doesn’t stop and we gotta fund the research in order to get it to stop,” Koen said. “So it’s important to be out here as much as we can.”

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