Quakertown Elementary teams up to raise $3,000 to help kids fighting cancer

Sisters Olivia Good and Madelyn

Sisters Olivia Good (right), a fourth grader, and Madelyn, a first grader, were the winners in the school's penny wars, with a big assist from their dad, who purchased 20,000 pennies from the bank.

By Gary Weckselblatt

Quakertown Elementary School, with just under 300 students, went well above its goal of $1,000 and raised more than $3,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, to help children battling cancer.

The inspiring school effort was spearheaded by teachers Christa Held and Alicia Hughes, who brainstormed for ideas to help motivate the students.

"Around the world today there's so much negativity with the news and all the things kids are hearing and seeing," Held said. "We just thought it would be a good idea to get these guys to understand that we can do good things for other people just because (it's the right thing to do). And that feeling about what it's like to serve others is enough."

A school assembly was held just before Halloween, and many youngsters went into their neighborhoods to collect money, rather than candy, for kids with cancer.

Spiritwear t-shirts, hoodies and socks were also sold, with a portion of the money going to LLS. Plus, a schoolwide penny war was held.

Sisters Olivia Good, a fourth grader, and Madelyn, a first grader, were the winners with a big assist from their dad, who bought 20,000 pennies from the bank in eight stacks, which Hughes described as "ginormously heavy."

"The girls were passionate about it and the dad knew that," Held said. "It was so cool that a parent went above and beyond like that."

Hughes said that seeing the students' faces "light up with excitement" when they saw the money "gave us chills. We were almost in tears. To be able to donate that much money, that's what we were shooting for."

Dr. Michael Zackon, QE's new principal, said "the students are fully into this. This is a worthwhile use of our time. It's an awesome project."

He said the schoolwide effort "shows the heart of QE, and the students' sensitivity to empathize with others less fortunate. I'm incredibly proud of the students, staff and teachers."

Zackon gave the youngsters some incentive, as he agreed to be taped to the wall and turned into an ice cream sundae.

Hughes said the inclusion of Zackon, who's new to the students and staff, has the young people realizing that "Not only are we going to help other kids and feel great about it, but our principal is doing something super cool. It puts the focus on the experience, not on getting popsicles or pizza."

Said Held, "We're very grateful with how everyone has responded."

Gary Weckselblatt, director of communications, writes about the people and the programs that impact the Quakertown Community School District. He can be reached at 215-529-2028 or [email protected].

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