Students at Burbank High are waiting to hear if they raised the most Pennies for Patients in the national fundraiser for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
District schools, from elementary to high school, conduct fundraisers for the society’s Los Angeles chapter. In 2013, Burbank High earned the most money of all high schools. The school will find out if it won again in May.
Over three weeks during the school year, all classrooms are encouraged to raise funds for the project, said Wendy Miller, senior English teacher, activities director and Associated Student Body adviser at Burbank High. She is also a 1992 graduate of the school. She brought the program to Burbank High when she started teaching there in 2000 and over 14 years the school has raised more than $77,000.
This year the school raised more than $6,700. The room that raised the most money, $1,342.71, was Trevor Marca’s freshman English honors class with only 23 students. Their reward was a lunch catered by Olive Garden.
Each year, the society chooses an Honored Hero to represent children in recovery for whom these funds are raised. This year a 9-year-old boy named Stevie was selected. He is in remission from Acute Lymphocytic Leukemia.
“The Honored Heroes come visit the school so the high school students can see that their pennies do make a difference,” Miller said.
Ninth-grader Amanda Camacho, 13, was the top collector of donations in her class.
“It feels really good to help a specific cause,” she said, adding that employees from her mother’s work donated money.
Second place top donation getter was Mary Tebbe, 14, also a ninth-grader, who collected money from family.
Marca’s fourth period classes have been the top fundraisers five out of the 10 years he has been teaching at Burbank High School.
There are so many causes for which the school raises funds, Marca focuses on one.
“This is one that I think is a really good cause and it’s fun to get the kids excited an it has a nice reward as well,” he said. “I’ve had a handful of students who have had leukemia and they have all survived so it’s hit close to home for me and Burbank High.”
It teaches the students about philanthropy and the importance of giving back to the community, he added. In the end, it’s not about getting lunch from Olive Garden, which is a nice bonus, but it’s about the charity. Plus, it’s fun to get competitive with the other classes.
“One year the classroom wanted to forgo the Olive Garden party and put that money toward the charity, but the society wouldn’t allow that,” said Marca, who graduated from Burbank High in 1996.
Even though there were only 23 students in the winning class, they got their parents and the community involved and Camacho’s mother got her entire office involved.
“Every year there are a few students who rack it up and the others chip in and do what they can do. But the key to charity is giving what you can and what you are comfortable with, so you don’t give anything you will regret later,” Marca said.