The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

March 1, 2014

42,017 pennies part of $3G kids raise for charity

Robert Inglis
The Daily Item

— SUNBURY — Eight-year-old Sarah Tarsa may have best summarized the sentiments of Oaklyn Elementary pupils who in 13 school days raised more than $3,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

 “My grandma gave me $50 for Valentine’s Day and I decided to donate it to the cause,” Sarah said. “I didn’t need it as much as they do. I have clothes and food and I am healthy and they aren’t.”

Pupils at Oaklyn, in the Shikellamy School District, took on a “Pennies for Patients” challenge Feb. 10 and filled box after box with coins. All told, 42,017 pennies were collected, along with other donations, said sixth-grade teacher Angie Olson, who was project coordinator.

“The participation from students has been amazing and overwhelming,” Olson said.

Principal Holly Judge distributed an email that asked teachers whether there was interest in the project, and Olson decided to take up the cause.

“I wanted to set a good leadership example for the students so they would learn a sense of caring and responsibility to become proactive members of their communities,” said Olson, who added that her paternal grandmother died from leukemia in 1977.

The donations came in different forms and amounts.

Sixth-grader Haley Ross, 12, said she “thought it was a lot of fun to try something new and a great way to get people excited about it.”

150G in U.S. face bad news

An estimated 149,990 Americans will be diagnosed with leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma in 2013, according to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“It’s a good choice for a cause because it affects a lot of people,” Haley said. “It makes me proud to be part of it and helping someone who needs it.”

Olson said the project lasted 13 school days, between Feb. 10 and Friday. A box was placed in each classroom at Oaklyn, which has 474 pupils. Olson would take the boxes of pennies to an electronic counting machine, which would then electronically transfer the amount to the charity.

“One day I spent 4½ hours there,” she said, adding that one box of coins in particular weighed 26 pounds.

“It was a worthwhile cause,” she said.

To add further incentive, teachers created a Wall of Fame, which featured pupils who donated $5. They also had a Kids’ Fun Day each Friday, when students who donated $1 during the week could take part in Hat Day and Pajama/Stuffed Animal Day.