Participants in The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's (LLS) Greater Los Angeles Chapter School & Youth(SM) Programs raised an unprecedented $1 million this spring, in a campaign that gives kids a chance to help in the fight against blood cancers. Further, the chapter can also boast the top fundraising school nationwide: students at Warren High School in Downey, CA, raised a remarkable $37,575.
Approximately 980 schools across the entire Greater Los Angeles area participated in the Pennies for Patients, or Pasta for Pennies programs, in which students are encouraged to collect spare change to help fund research seeking cures for all blood cancers, including leukemia, which causes more deaths than any other cancer among children and young adults under the age of 20. The funds also support LLS's patient services programs.
The four runners-up schools from across the country were Oak Point Intermediate in Eden Prairie, MN (last year's winner) with $36,053; Princeton High School in Cincinnati with $30,560; Mt. Pisgah Christian School in Alpharetta, GA, with $29,568; and Walter Johnson High School in Bethesda, MD, with $29,497.
"It's so inspiring to see the enthusiasm the students bring to this program," said Kristy Lysik, LLS's national director of School & Youth Programs. "We are so proud of their effort and dedication. They were really able to raise some impressive sums in spite of the difficult economy. Pennies for Patients, Pasta for Pennies and the other School & Youth Programs are all about teaching children the value of community service and they see that their participation really makes a difference to people who are touched by cancer."
Nationally, 25,000 schools – 10 million students from kindergarten to high school – participated in the programs during the 2009-10 school year, raising approximately $20 million to help fund blood cancer research and patient services.
Warren school attributes its success to a variety of factors, including very engaged teachers, staff and administrators, challenges and contests to get the competitive juices flowing, and some creative fundraising incentives, including yard sales, auctions, a crazy hair contest, and many other ideas.
One was a March Madness contest in which teachers and staff competed as if it were the NCAA basketball tournament, only the contest was based on how much funds their "team" raised. The top 64 teams qualified to be included in the March Madness bracket, and then continued to either advance or be eliminated as if they were college basketball teams competing in the tournament. The contest garnered $16,000 toward the campaign.
In another contest, the student couple who raised the most money won two prom tickets.
"After brainstorming the best way to achieve their goals the students realized that the teachers had to get involved if the students were going to be on board," said Warren Activities Director Cari White. "In addition we knew we had to come up with good incentives and make it competitive. This was truly a school-wide effort."
Winning schools participating in LLS's School & Youth Programs, Pennies for Patients and its sister program, Olive Garden's Pasta for Pennies, receive a free pizza party or, in the case of Pasta for Pennies, a free lunch courtesy of The Olive Garden Italian Restaurant. Since its inception in 1994, School & Youth Programs have raised more than $175 million.
The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society