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Students join fight vs. leukemia

William Ferchland, Tahoe Daily Tribune

Change is a popular word among Kingsbury Middle School students these days.

The school is collecting change from its students for Zachary Hanham, a 5-year-old boy in Truckee who has leukemia.

The program, called Pennies for Patients, is a national fund-raiser that works with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The nonprofit organization assists researchers working to cure leukemia and related illnesses.

Change is dropped into cardboard boxes decorated by the school’s Honor Society, which also organized the fund-raiser and will count the change when the program ends March 1. It began Feb. 11.

“I think that it helps kids to learn charity and giving to others,” said Carly Kester, faculty advisor for the Honor Society. “Everybody has spare change at their house so it’s not like going the extra mile to help someone.”

Michael Picker, 13, donated a $5 bill in one felt pen decorated box. It was part of his allowance money, he said.

“I felt sorry for the kid,” he said. “This kid has leukemia. He’s really sick. I always feel bad for people like that.”

Christina Richardson, 14, sat next to Picker. She picked up where Picker left off.

“It’s very easy to find a few pennies to help somebody,” she said.

Zachary was diagnosed with lymphoblastic lymphoma Aug. 28, 1999.

The money raised by the middle school won’t directly go to Zachary but will be used for leukemia and lymphoma research, said Suzanne Bartlett, campaign manager for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“The funds that the school is raising is very important because it helps patients like Zachary,” Bartlett said.

Kester recalled a sixth-grade girl last year who brought change that her family was saving to use during a family vacation. It amounted to about $100, Kester said.

Spencer Swearington donated pocket change. It was his lunch money.

“I hope that he gets better and has a great life and doesn’t buy too much candy,” he said.

For more information or to make a donation call (800) 410-8170.


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