UTICA, NY-- At Kernan Elementary School in Utica the motto is "Kernan Kids Can," and students are proving that motto is fitting when it comes to 'Pennies for Patients.'
Pennies for Patients is a program for elementary and middle school students to collect and raise funds for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Kernan Elementary School has participated in the program for roughly 20 years.
Karen Balandis, organizer of the program and teaching assistant for the school, said since she's been involved with the fundraising efforts students have been more than willing to show their support.
"Something that's heartwarming that everybody wants to just pitch in and help," she said. "Through the years we've had tons of staff changes, but it just seems like it's been a Kernan thing and Kernan just sticks with it year after year."
Each classroom collects donations from students and teachers. The school also sells promotional paper icons to display in the hallways to raise awareness for the campaign. The students even organize bake sales to raise money for the program. This year the school raised more than $1,400.
Chelsea Dougherty, a fifth grade teacher at the school, said she tried to motivate her students throughout the month to help out.
"They know what it's like sometimes to be down and out," she said. "Sometimes they know the struggle of having either a friend, who's been sick or parents who've been sick. When I come an approach them about the actual fundraiser itself... how other kids are struggling with cancer, that really touches them."
Glory Htoo, a sixth graders at the school, has been involved with the program for the last two years. She said it's been rewarding to see more students get involved too.
"It made me feel nice, because seeing that everybody's helping to help people who have cancer," she said. "So that people that have cancer can live a better life."
This year the program is expanding to another Utica school, John F. Hughes Elementary school.
Balandis said the school will start fundraising in early May with a goal of $1,000.
The school has already set up a fundraising site, http://events.lls.org/pages/wcny/JohnFHughesElementarySchool-2018
For more information on Pennies for Patients, or to donate visit: www.studentseries.org