JAMESTOWN, NY - Helping others is nothing new to the children who attend Samuel G. Love Elementary School in the Chautauqua County city of Jamestown
"We really strive to teach them to give what they can and do what they can," said music teacher Catherine South. They have donated food to area food pantries and they have collected art supplies to donate to St. Jude's Hospital to donate to sick children," South said, explaining the community service aspect of the learning process for the Kindergarten-4th graders who attend Love school.
This time, however, students have turned their efforts toward raising money in honor of one of their own classmates.
First grader Lexie Snyder, 6, was diagnosed with leukemia two years ago and continues to undergo treatments.
Students have been conducting a "pennies for patients" drive to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a charity from which Lexie herself has benefited.
"They help us out by reimbursing certain costs associated with her treatment," explained the girl's mother, Gretchen Snyder.
While Medicaid pays for her ongoing treatments, the incidental costs not covered by insurance can break a family of modest means, according to Snyder.
"In the beginning we were driving to Buffalo twice a week. Between the money for gas, parking, meals, and daycare for our other children the cost of this is astronomical for us," Snyder said.
Of the many fund drives held for various charities by students in recent years, South said this effort was the largest ever, mostly because students wanted so much to help on behalf of their classmate.
"Lexie is such a fighter and she's an inspiration to all of us," South said.
At a school assembly held this past Monday (the 2nd anniversary of Lexie's diagnosis), it was revealed that students and staff had raised $1,210 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
It was an exceptional amount, made more exceptional because the kids responsible for raising the money don't have much money themselves.
"We have a 100% poverty level with students receiving free lunches," said South. "To see this response and for them to bring in pennies that they might not really be able to spare, is really showing what amazing kids we have here and how exceptional they are."
South said students spent weeks carrying cardboard boxes in which to collect donations, and sacrificed some of their own money as well.
"Some of the students had money for ice cream and decided they didn't need ice cream it was a better cause to donate it for Lexie. It gives me goose bumps to think about it, and it makes you want to cry when you think about how these kids care that much and will give everything that they can to help other kids. These little kids are making such a difference at this age...imagine what they're going to do when they're our age."
Exceptional things, no doubt.
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