The Westerly Sun
WOOD RIVER JCT. — Monday’s kickoff of the annual Pennies for Patients campaign was especially meaningful for Chariho Middle School teacher Dawn Haynes. The campaign raises funds for the Rhode Island chapter of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Haynes, who was given a leukemia diagnosis in 2012, was celebrating her fifth year of being cancer-free.
“I was diagnosed in July of 2012 and this month, I hit my five-year remission mark,” she said.
Students participating in the campaign collect money and add it to large donation boxes at the school. The amount raised has increased every year since the campaign began at the school five years ago. Last year the goal was $5,000 and students collected $5,500. This year, the goal has been increased to $6,000.
In addition to the donation boxes that students have been given to take home, this year, for the first time, there will be donation boxes at all the schools in the Chariho district. The money will be counted during the students’ lunch periods.
“We have prizes for them, depending on the donation amount,” Haynes said. “So, depending on the donation amount, anywhere from a dollar or two up, they can pick prizes. We have erasers, we have pencils, we have, for higher amounts, ear buds. That’s new this year. They’re going to love that.”
The kickoff for students in Grades 5 and 6 took place in the middle school auditorium, and Haynes and fellow seventh-grade teacher Stephen Cormier launched the campaign.
“Part of it for me, besides trying to get kids involved in something outside of themselves, something to care about, I do have cancer in my family,” Cormier said.
Cormier encouraged students to think beyond collecting pennies.
“I know it’s called Pennies for Patients, but we really would like dollar bills for patients, five dollar bills for patients, whatever you can afford,” he said. “If you have pennies that you’ve been saving, that’s great, too … What we’re hoping, and what the goal is, is some day to find a cure for cancer, and they’re getting closer.”
The campaign will continue until Feb. 7, and donations can be made online at: https://events.lls.org/pages/neri/Chariho-Middle-School-2020