Students donate pennies for patients

Published 7:01 am Thursday, February 18, 2010

By the end of next week, Ellis Middle School hopes to say they have donated $20,000 to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

This year, the school’s student council holds their fifth annual two-week “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser to benefit the organization dedicated to blood cancers. To date, almost $16,500 has been raised, and the school hopes to add about $3,500 more to their five-year total.

The funds are typically collected through in-school events, but student council advisor Eric Vaughn hopes their first ever community Web campaign will boost donations this year.

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“It’s a great way for people outside of the school to get involved,” he said of a Web donation link.

Since Ellis ranked in the top 10 schools in Minnesota for total donations the last two years, the school has been given an opportunity to collect donations online.

The middle school will continue their on-campus penny war for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) as well.

Each advisory class is competing for a doughnut party by adding pennies and dollars into their classroom’s can for positive points, while poisoning other classes’ cans with silver change or negative points.

“The point is sort of that even if you only have pocket change to spare, that’s OK because every penny truly helps,” Vaughn said.

According to the LLS, millions of dollars have been raised in pennies and spare change by more than 10 million students since 1994.

Another doughnut party is up for grabs to the class that shows the most passion by creating the finest decorated can.

Last year’s can featured a noble knight charging against blood born cancers. He was called “Can Sir.”

The students also have another chance to win a doughnut party Monday. On “Online Donation Day,” advisory classes compete to receive the most designations for online donations.

Vaughn said the student council decided five years ago to become involved with “Pennies for Patients” because leukemia and lymphoma affect school-age children.

“We’ve had students with these diseases at Ellis. I’ve had them in my classroom,” Vaughn said.

At the beginning of the fundraising campaign, which kicked off Monday, the students learned about blood born cancers and the LLS, Vaughn continued.

“The kids seem to be able to identify with it,” he said.

The LLS is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer. Their mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma and improve the quality of life of patients and their families.

The “Pennies for Patients” fundraiser runs at Ellis through Friday, Feb. 26.

While there is no doughnut party offered to the public, individuals are encouraged to pick up their own sweet treat after giving tax-deductible donations to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through “Pennies for Patients” at