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Friday March 4, 2016 at 8:31am Age: 3 yrs
Category: District, Minisink Elementary


For the next three weeks, Minisink Elementary School students will translate concern for others into action as they participate in a homegrown version of a national campaign to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).  In March of each year, schools across the United States join the three-week Pennies for Patients campaign to help raise funds to find a cure for blood-related cancers and improve the lives of patients and their families.


Since two Minisink Valley schools first joined the fundraising effort on behalf of the Hudson Valley Chapter of LLS in 2002, the district has contributed nearly $75,000 total to the cause – and counting. This year, 2nd grade teacher, Thomas Short, a long-time champion of this cause, is leading the elementary school in “Pasta for Pennies,” the school’s version of the same campaign. The class that raises the most funds in each grade wins a pasta party.


Students were introduced to the cause with the screening of “Why, Charlie Brown, Why?” a short film featuring the story of a little girl affected by leukemia and how her friends mobilized to help her.  “I watched it like a million times at my home and here. I love it!” one student said. “Seeing how you can make someone comfortable when you visit them at the hospital makes you want to help more,” another student added.  Asked how they might like to be treated if they experienced a serious illness, one student was quick to say, “I would like people to come over and call me to check on me and see how I’m feeling.”


The campaign will be integrated into the curriculum for English language arts, math and science classes with real-world lessons that draw from the experience of raising funds and awareness for a cause. Students in grades K-2 will brainstorm how to increase donations, write letters to prospective donors and discuss the project with their families.  Classroom “banks” to collect pennies and other change have been decorated. Keeping track of cash donations will involve sorting, estimating, weighing, and counting by 5 (nickels), 10 (dimes) and 25 (quarters).  The emphasis of all activities is on each child’s ability to contribute to the effort and make a difference through caring, personal responsibility and acts of kindness. 


“This is important because you’re helping people with leukemia,” one student said. “The pasta party is fun, but we do this to help people,” another student reinforced.  An 8-year-old boy shared that he relates to the drive on a personal level because he lost grandparents and an aunt to cancer.


To contribute to the elementary school’s fundraising efforts on behalf of children and families affected by leukemia, go to and type in Slate Hill in the “city” box to find our elementary school.  You can also make your donation count toward the fundraising goals of a specific classroom by typing in the teacher’s last name.


“I have been working with the Leukemia and Lymphoma society for many years and this organization has provided help for many people in our community.  This program is also a valuable experience for the students participating in the fundraiser,” said Thomas Short, 2nd grade teacher and drive coordinator.


“My first grade is a very motivated and caring group.  They donated to the animal shelter at Christmas and now want to do everything they can to help sick children. I am very proud of them!” said 1st grade teacher Kimberly McDermott, another long-time advocate for the cause. 


More than 14.5 million students and 850,000 educators in 28,000 schools across the U.S. participate annually. By engaging in the campaign, students learn about making an impact, leadership, teamwork, philanthropy and what "doing good" for others can look like.