Students at E.A. White Elementary School are collecting change to help Georgia residents diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma. The Pennies for Patients campaign kicked off Feb. 8. The three-week campaign helps provide funding for research, financial aid and support programs.
Schools nationwide compete by classroom and by school to earn prizes. The campaign includes an honoree program that connects local children who have been affected by blood cancer to the participating schools, helping to demonstrate the importance of contributions, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which organizes the annual campaign.
The society’s goal is to raise $500,000, said Bridgett Malony, school and youth manager for LLS.
More than 700 schools statewide are participating. E.A. White is participating in the campaign for the first time. Don C. Faith Middle School, whose campaign was postponed to the second week of March as the school raises money to help Haiti, is in its fifth year. Richard G. Wilson Elementary School is also a past participant in the campaign.
“The concept behind collecting change is to teach the students they can give a little bit and it can add up to make a difference,” Malony said.
Thanks in part to Pennies for Patients, LLS was able to provide educational programs for nearly 500 patients last year.
Programs included family support groups, informational hotlines and a back-to-school programs to support and teach guidance counselors, teachers and school administrators how to help families of students with cancer or students dealing with cancer in a parent.
“A lot of people don’t realize that leukemia is the most common cancer in children under 20,” Malony said. “Usually, unfortunately, there’s someone within a school we work with that does have leukemia or has been affected by it.”
LLS was also able to give $245,000 in financial support to families and provide programs that brought healthcare professionals to speak with people affected by blood cancers.
Faith Middle School leads Fort Benning schools with an overall contribution of nearly $10,000 since 2006, Malony said.
The students are given their own containers to take home and collect change. The containers are returned to the school’s appointed coordinator weekly. The classroom that collects the most each week receives a prize.
Rebecca Hodne, whose three children participated in the program at a previous school, helped organize E.A. White’s first campaign.
“This is teaching empathy and educating students about leukemia and lymphoma,” said Hodne, the school’s nurse.
As first-time campaigners, the school’s goal was to raise a total of $500, but they’ve already reached nearly $800, Hodne said.
The winning classroom will get a free recess Friday and next week the students will be competing for a “pajama day” where they can wear their favorite pajamas to class., she said.
For more information on the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, visit www.lls.org. To sign up your school to participate, call 415-625-1133.