Wahpeton High School students tend to be forbidden from burying their faces in their phones. If they’re allowed to do so, it had better be for a good reason.

How about more than 10,000 good reasons?

“Auction for a Cause,” held in honor of the late Braxton Hofman, raised more than $10,000 Wednesday, Feb. 16. The final total, still being determined as of press time, is in addition to approximately $1,500 collected by Red River Valley youth at recent sporting events. Approximately $700 of the $1,500 was raised in Breckenridge, Minnesota.

Braxton Hofman, 23, was a Wahpeton High School graduate who died Feb. 7. His family’s social media posts said he had been diagnosed with the skin condition toxic epidermal necrolysis (TEN), pneumonia and prior to those, COVID-19. The Hofman family includes current Wahpeton students, Daily News previously reported.

The estimated $11,500 raised in a less-than-two-week span by area teenagers is intended to assist in the Hofman family’s expenses. Auction for a Cause and the drives at sporting events were held in addition to a still-active GoFundMe campaign, “Braxton’s Fight,” which has raised $6,750 as of 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18. A Donorbox campaign previously linked at Daily News’ website did not appear to be active as of Friday afternoon but had raised at least $10,000 according to previous activity.

Altogether, approximately more than $28,000 has been raised for the Hofman family to date.

“When the kids added up the (auction) total, I asked, ‘Are you sure?’” said Tammy Goerger, who teaches the 10-student leadership team that organized Auction for a Cause.

The auction lasted from 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Wednesday. Leading up to the event opening, the leadership students and Goerger did a final inventory of items donated by Red River Valley individuals, businesses and families. Wahpeton High School’s music room office and the hallway outside the school auditorium rivaled an active auction house, with 110 goods-filled baskets of all sizes and devoted event “staff.”

“I didn’t think we’d have this many baskets,” Jaida Pikarski said.

Wahpeton students are impressed by the generosity of their neighbors and peers.

“I spent a lot of time calling places and asking for donations. Everyone was so welcoming, saying they’d surely do it. It just opens your mind to see how big the community is, but also how tight-knit it is,” Quinn Bassingthwaite said.

Bassingthwaite estimates that she reached out to 45 donors. Pikarski made 20 calls, mostly in a one-night marathon.

“Almost every place I called said they would contribute. It was amazing,” she said.

Auction with a Cause was inspired by tragic events, but it has also inspired positivity.

“It’s nice to be part of something like this,” Bassingthwaite said.

“Mrs. Goerger brought up the idea and gave us a little push,” Pikarski said. “She really makes a student appreciated and is a great teacher. She gives the motivation, too.”

Auction with a Cause winners will be able to pick up their items during the day of Tuesday, Feb. 22 at Wahpeton High School. In addition to Pikarski and Bassingthwaite, the leadership team consists of Kaylie Hinkley, Michael Plumley, Jada Griffin, Kilee Bladow, Jackson Fliflet, Holly German, Briar Maudal and Michelle Scheepstra.

“Braxton’s Fight” is organized by Abby Weight, Wahpeton.

“Steph Hofman (Braxton’s mother) is our daycare lady and takes care of many kids including my own, which is why I felt inclined to start a GoFundMe for the family,” Weight said. “Please consider donating. The ‘Braxton’s Fight’ page is still open.”

Brad Hofman, Braxton’s father, shared the family’s thanks.

“We are overjoyed with the level of support we have received from the communities of Wahpeton and Breckenridge and the many law enforcement agencies,” he said. “It makes us so happy to live in this area of Richland County.”

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