When students at Bull Run Elementary decided to raise money for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, the goal was to raise $1,000. Instead, the school raised more than $2,000.
"It was just phenomenal — it exceeded my expectations," said guidance counselor Dana Doss, who helped oversee the project. "It seems so little, but it benefits such a good cause. And it was so sincere and heartfelt on the children's part."
It was the first time Bull Run participated in this fund-raiser, called Pennies for Patients, and the students did it for three weeks at the end of the school year. Said Doss: "Our SCA likes to do a community outreach project, and we decided this would be a wonderful opportunity for it."
It was a schoolwide affair, with students, staff, faculty and parents participating. They collected whatever spare change they had and sent it in to the school. "We even had people who wrote $50 and $100 checks," said Doss. "That's what was so impressive about it — that it came in all forms and fashion. And even the smallest amount made an incredible difference."
CLASSES COMPETED against each other, and those raising the most money received a pizza party from Domino's in Centreville. "Teachers had collection boxes in the classroom, and students would bring in money, every day," said Doss.
Helping to spearhead the effort were two boys — now both 10 and in the fifth grade — SCA members Nick Burroughs and Nick Sharpe. "We would go on the [school's] TV news program and ask the students trivia questions about leukemia," said Nick B. "And they would bring pennies in for kids with leukemia and lymphoma. I felt really good because I knew we could help save someone's life."
"We'd answer the questions, the next day," said Nick S. "We went to a Web site on the weekends and found the questions. As a room representative, I collected the pennies for each class." Added Nick B.: "And we counted them at the end of each week to see how much we had."
Doss said the two Nicks came to her with the program idea. "They asked if they could design trivia questions for the news show," she said. "So they deserve extra praise for taking such a vested interest."
The two classes collecting the most money — nearly $300 each — were teacher Ali Hebler's second-graders and teacher Blair Crabb's fifth-graders.
"The students did really well," said Nick B. "They brought in a lot more than I thought they would 'cause it was such short notice." And during an awards ceremony at the end of the school year, Bull Run Elementary received a plaque, in return. Said Nick S.: "We were very proud."
DURING THE COURSE of the fund-raiser, the students also discovered how the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society had helped the campaign's 2004 "poster child," fourth-grader Nikki McClure, 9, of Cardinal Forest Elementary in Springfield. She's now in remission and, said Doss, learning her story "helped the children put a name and face on the association to which we were contributing."
"I'm elated, and so proud of the students for their determination, commitment and passion," she said. "And they didn't even know about the pizza party until they were halfway through with the collections. They did it because they truly wanted to help those who were stricken by the disease. And we'll do it again, this year."