‘Pennies for Patients’ raises money to help children with cancer

WORTHINGTON -- Prairie Elementary students, staff and teachers had a fun and sticky Friday afternoon, as students had the chance to throw pies in teachers' faces for a good cause.


WORTHINGTON - Prairie Elementary students, staff and teachers had a fun and sticky Friday afternoon, as students had the chance to throw pies in teachers’ faces for a good cause.


As a way to raise funds for “Pennies for Patients,” an effort to give financial support to children with cancer, students in all grade levels were encouraged to donate money throughout January. Those students who collaborated had the chance to put their names in a drawing and, if picked, could throw a pie in a teacher’s face.


Screams from hundreds of students resounded in the school’s gym Friday when they were told that the school fundraised $8,549.79, which was over the $6,000 goal and an increase of more than $3,000 over last year.



Fourth- and third-grade art teacher Jayme Wiertzema was excited and surprised to see the generosity and effort that each classroom gave to the cause.


“I am extremely impressed and I’m honored to be a part of this school,” Wiertzema said. “I know a lot of the students don't have a lot, and they were still able to raise all this money and bring it in. I think it's just fun to come together as a school and celebrate that.


“We had 39 classes that reached the $100 mark, five classes reached the $200 mark and four classes reached over $300,” Wiertzema added.


Wiertzema explained this year’s effort tried to educate students a little more about leukemia and the Lymphoma Society through videos and testimonies of cancer patients.



“I think it’s a good opportunity for them to be outside themselves and learn about other children who have these diseases,” Wiertzema said.


The top four classes that raised the greatest amount of money were recognized. Fourth-grade teacher Karmel Holinka’s class contributed $632.81, winning first place. The class will be celebrating with a pizza party.


In second place was Tasha’s Raymo second-grade class, raising $410.75. Andy Weiss’s class won third place, raising $331.36, and fourth place went to Kelli Stenzel’s third-grade class with $321.


“My class was all fired up from the beginning,” Holinka said. “They were bringing full boxes back to me even before we really started.”



Holinka said it was a great feeling to see the sympathy her students showed during the fundraising. She noted that each morning, students shared personal experiences related to cancer.


“We all brought a story of someone we might have lost to cancer, whether that was a relative or a friend,” Holinka said. “I lost my dad to pancreatic cancer, so that brought some compassion here. …. Also, the little stories they put up online for us to watch about kids with cancer really brings that to the surface.”


One students who shared such a story was fourth-grader Damaris Chavez, who lost her older brother to cancer. She explained that she hopes the funds will help those in her same situation.

“I donated so the same thing doesn't happen to their relatives or friends,” Chavez said.

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