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'Pillow fight' helps those transitioning from homelessness

Those in the Coldwell Banker Burnet-Hudson office have participated in "The Pillow Fight" collecting pillows, and other donations for the organization Bridging, for years. From left are, (front) Independent Sales Associates Jean Moore, Melissa Wiegele, Sara Nielsen, Mark Johnson, Tom Lehmann (Guarantee Rate Affinity), Jim Johnson (Sales Manager); (back) Independent Sales Associates Todd Frank, Jason Neuhaus, and Brian Johnson. Photos courtesy of Sara Nielsen.1 / 2
Shown after filling a truck with pillows last year are (from left) Independent Sales Associates Jason Neuhaus, Mark Kovatch, Sara Nielsen, and Tom Lehmann.2 / 2

Sara Nielsen looks forward to "The Pillow Fight" every year. In fact, she's been nicknamed "The Pillow Queen" by a coworker because she enjoys the event so much.

"It's incredible, it's just really incredible, and people just think it's really fun," she said.

Well, what is it?

Nielsen is a part of the Coldwell Banker Burnet Foundation's advisory committee. Each year Coldwell Banker Burnet offices collect pillows and donations for the organization Bridging, which supports people transitioning out of homelessness. Bridging helps furnish homes with items like towels, sheets, furniture and pillows. Basic necessities.

"I always call it a no-brainer," she said. "If we can help with something so basic, we need to help."

This is the seventh year her office has participated in the pillow fight, Nielsen said.

This year's "Pillow Fight" started on Feb. 20, and will end on March 20.

For the last two years, the Hudson office has collected more pillows than any other office in the company. For the past five years, she said, they've collected the most pillows per agent.

"We have a lot of fun with it while helping out those transitioning out of homelessness," Nielsen said. "When you think about someone in this day and age going to bed at night without a pillow, it's mind boggling!"

Last year, she said they filled a truck with their pillow donations.

This year's goal is 3,500 pillows.

In the past Nielsen has instigated challenges to encourage donations and to have fun.

This year, though she's always been "absolutely terrified" of chickens, Nielsen has agreed to pet a live chicken if the 3,500 pillow goal is reached.

"I said, you know what, it's for a good cause, I'll do it," she said.

Nielsen said anyone interested in donating can contact her at

Gretta Stark

Gretta Stark has been a reporter for the River Falls Journal since July of 2013. She previously worked as a reporter for the New Richmond News from June 2012 to July 2013. She holds a BA in Print and Electronic Media from Wartburg College.

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