Area schools pitch in pennies to help LLSStudents from area schools have pitched in their pennies and other spare change for the Pennies for Patients program with all the funds benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. “It makes the kids aware of how important a small gesture can be,” said Ellen Brown, program coordinator, Edgeley High School business and computer teacher and Future Business Leaders Association adviser.
By: Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun
Students from area schools have pitched in their pennies and other spare change for the Pennies for Patients program with all the funds benefitting the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
“It makes the kids aware of how important a small gesture can be,” said Ellen Brown, program coordinator, Edgeley High School business and computer teacher and Future Business Leaders Association adviser.
Brown and Jenna McDowell, a senior at the high school, coordinated a three-week effort that raised more than $1,100 with 220 students.
“The kids enjoy it and we involved everybody in the school,” Brown said.
Students can donate pocket change to bring an iPod to school or wear a hat, she said. At the end of the event, winning classes from the elementary and high school get rewarded with food parties and in the past have taped a teacher to a wall.
Brown said the event started at Edgeley some years ago when a pre-kindergarten student from Nortonville was diagnosed with a type of blood cancer. She ultimately lost her battle with the disease.
“We’ve just taken it on as a project every year,” she said.
Another area school that has been participating for years is St. John’s Academy in Jamestown.
What started as a hop-a-thon for the pre-kindergarten students for LSS, spread to a school-wide effort after a pre-kindergarten student was diagnosed with leukemia and beat the disease, said Jill Mahoney, Kids’ Kingdom director at St. John’s.
“It brought a new dimension to why we head up, tackle, why we do it,” Mahoney said.
Laurise Witzig Kids’ Kingdom assistant director also helps Mahoney in coordinating the event.
The event this year raised more than $1,500 in two weeks, she said. The past four years the school raised about $9,000.
The school also uses food parties as an incentive for classes that raise the most, as well as dollar days where area merchants donate gift certificates for the top earners, Mahoney said. Extra gym class days are also popular among St. John’s students.
Valley City High School got involved in Pennies for Patients for the first time this year, said Nicole Sufficool, service learning coordinator for Valley City Public Schools.
The girls’ basketball team held a penny drive at a boys’ basketball game and collected $157, Sufficool said.
“Whether we’re raising $100 or $1,000, for us it was the kids doing it and knowing why they are doing it,” she said.
Small or large, every donation counts, said Angie Lundeen, campaign director for Pennies for Patients for the North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota region.
“It’s really all about teaching teamwork to kids and teaching kids that every little bit counts,” Lundeen said. Donations have grown in this region from $16,000 in 1992, to $728,000 in 2009.
The donated funds are used for research and for patient services, she said.
When the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society started in 1954, the chance for survival from acute lymphoblastic leukemia — the most common form in children — was 4 percent. In 2009 it was 88 percent, Lundeen said.
She said every penny helped create those results.
“It’s not some company donating $1 million … but it really is pennies adding up,” Lundeen said.
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at email@example.com