Pennies from the heart

By Katie Parr

Credit: Julie Langer

Students were encouraged to donate a $1 to put their names up on the Wall of Hope.

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    Mrs. Wilmot's class raised $510 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

    (Julie Langer)

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February 27, 2012 Updated Nov 1, 2013 at 8:39 PM CST

HAVANA, Ill. -- When Havana Junior High Counselor Julie Langer set the goal of $500 for a school fundraiser, she had no idea just how small that number really was.

Langer originally thought the number was optimistic. The intention, she said, was just to raise a small amount for the Pennies for Patients Program for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.  

"I set a school goal, but I wasn't sure what amount to set it at since we have never participated before," said Langer. "By the end of the first week, the school had already raised $2,100."

But it didn't stop there. Langer said by the end of the three-week campaign, the school had raised nearly $4,000---a sum that caught her off guard.   

"Our poverty rate in the community is 60 percent, and yet these students gave everything they had," stated Langer.

The fundraiser gave students the opportunity to bring in coins, anything from pennies to quarters.  On Fridays---dubbed "Dollar Days"---dollar bills were encouraged. Langer said incentives like pizza parties, homework passes and iTunes gift cards definitely helped inspire kids to go above and beyond the call.

The fundraiser soon became a good-natured competition between homeroom classes, but it wasn't just students battling it out for the coveted title of Highest Fundraisers. 

"Teachers got into it, too," Langer added. "Several were in a competition with each other."

Langer also said while most participants contributed for the incentives, the cause really hit home for some.   

"Some kids have a high school friend recently diagnosed with Leukemia," said Langer. "And a science teacher's son has it, too." 

Langer said this fundraiser has been the most successful event in the school's recent history, even more so than last year's St. Jude Math-a-thon. 

"This is just another testament to if we put our minds to something, look what we can accomplish," said Langer.

 

Do you have an inspiring story from your community? We want to hear about it. Contact Katie at kparr@week.com

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