It`s a safe bet that most of you reading this, have been involved in a fundraiser of some sort recently. If you have school-aged children, there is no avoiding it – not that this is a bad thing.
Over the years, we have been fortunate to “cover” some very interesting fundraisers, for some very worthy causes. We have followed our Town`s children “Caroling for Coins”, collecting and donating items for the Dedham Food Pantry, and wearing Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness.
We have watched as our boys and girls have brought flowers to the elderly in nursing homes, picked up toys to bring in to school for others not as fortunate, and taken up collections for families in need.
We have stood by proud, as our young ones have stepped up and volunteered their “precious time” participating in walks, races, clean-ups, car washes, and dozens of other events.
Last week, we caught up with the Student Councilors in grades 6, 7, and 8 at the Dedham Middle School. These boys and girls, aged 10-14, were putting the finishing touches on their first “Dollars for Donations” campaign. With the end of the school year in sight, Student Council Teacher Representatives - Andrew Patterson, Sue Lyons, and Rebecca Huff – held a meeting with their students from each grade.
A letter had come across the teacher`s desk from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) asking for help. The LLS is the World`s Largest Voluntary Cancer Research Agency, specifically focused on finding cures and better treatment for blood cancer patients.
The teachers explained to their student councilors, that the LLS funds “hundreds of promising researchers, at leading cancer centers and universities across the world.” Since the Leukemia Society has no campus or laboratories to maintain, all donations go directly to research.
Well, after meeting with their teachers, the DMS Student Councilors had a plan and set a goal! The group figured that if each kid in school (approx. 600 students) could bring in $2.00 they would be able to donate a respectable sum of $1,200 to their cause. To make things even more interesting, the students took it upon themselves to “compete” homeroom by homeroom and grade by grade.
After 2 weeks of hanging posters and collecting “Dollars for Donation” funds, the results were in! We had the chance to chat briefly before school with Mr. Patterson, Ms. Lyons and Ms. Huff, and we were quite surprised by their achievement.
The teachers explained that “these boys and girls in Middle School, undergo more changes (physical, mental, social, moral, and emotional) than in any other time in their life.” “As teachers and role models, you can help develop their attitudes and behavior and that will stay with most of them for life.” The teachers went on to say “when you involve students in activities such as this, you nurture their desire to become more involved – not only in school, but in the community, nationally, and globally.”
The results of these teachers, the Student Councilors and the DMS students as a whole, certainly raised an eyebrow. Their modest goal of $2.00 per student ($1,200 total) had been far surpassed.
The boys and girls in grade 8 had collected just over $300. The students in grade 7 had brought in almost $700. It was this 6th grade class however, that even wowed these veteran teachers. These youngsters (grade 6) had collected over $1,100 themselves!
Passing Principal Debra Gately in the hall, we asked if she had heard the “totals?” She turned to us with a warm smile and simply replied “Yep, that`s what we do around here!”
Each year almost 50,000 people are diagnosed with leukemia, and now thanks to the efforts of the Dedham Middle School, the LLS has well over $2,000 to add to its research funding. Ms. Gately summed it up for us. “Developing compassion in these students, regardless the cause, helps teach them kindness, respect and empathy and that makes me very proud!”
Story and Photo by: Joe Kilroy