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February 27, 2008 > Kitayama students give "Pennies for Patients"

Kitayama students give "Pennies for Patients"

By Emma Victoria G. Blanco

The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society has set up a service learning project for schools to participate in each year called "Pennies for Patients." Kitayama Elementary School in Union City has taken part in this fundraising project the past several years. Starting the last week of January, students from Kindergarten to fifth grade collected pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters. By Feb. 8, they raised $256, just a little shy of their fundraising goal of $300. The monies they raised will benefit Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and go towards funding research to find cures for leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma, and to improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

For two weeks, collection boxes were placed in each of the participating classrooms. At the end of each week, teachers Janet Lipang (second grade) and Ermina Teramura (fourth grade) consolidated all the collected spare change and brought it all to the nearest Coinstar kiosk. Coinstar is the official coin processor for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's School & Youth campaigns. Thereafter, Lipang and Teramura, who volunteered to coordinate the program at Kitayama this year, sent the Coinstar receipts to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's San Francisco chapter.

When asked about her experience with the campaign, Lipang said, "It was great to collect the heavy boxes [and] to see all the students give. It's not complicated. It's just a matter of encouraging students and teaching them how important it is to give than to receive." The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society provided all the necessary materials to conduct the campaign, such as a curriculum guide to help implement lesson plans, supplies and materials for coin collection, letters for parents about the program, optional teaching aids, and informative videos about blood cancers. They also provided a focus: a patient hero. Kitayama Elementary's patient hero was a second grader whose story was shared with the students. Patient heroes are local children who are fighting leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma. By learning the patient heroes' stories, the students participating in the campaign can personalize their efforts and have a more relevant and rewarding experience.

Leukemia is the leading cause of cancer-related death among children and young adults under the age of 20. Since 1994, millions of dollars have been raised in pennies and other spare change by more than 10 million elementary, middle and high school students throughout the country. Lipang would like to volunteer to coordinate the campaign again next year. She said that she plans to encourage more classrooms to participate and hopes that it will help them meet their fundraising goal.

For more information about the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society's School & Youth Programs, visit

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