Camelot Education’s Cunningham Academy Students Raise Hundreds for Local Family of Child with Leukemia
As with all Camelot Education schools, Cunningham Academy in Vineland, NJ, has close ties to the local community and partner organizations.
This year, as part of one of the school’s fundraising events, through the organization Pennies for Patients, the students raised $900.00 for a three-year-old boy, Jackson Rivera, who has been diagnosed with leukemia.
“Pennies for Patients raises money for children with the disease,” said Hamidullah Lundy, program manager for Cunningham Academy. “A member of our staff, Zaquiiran Jones, knows Jackson and his family and knew this was something our students would take to heart. They have been raising money for various causes for the past four years, and it really teaches them the value of service, community, and giving.”
Pennies for Patients connects schools with local blood cancer patients and allows students to see the impact they’re making in the lives of others, a lesson in perspective of a larger world.
Cunningham student Aaliyah Thune, 15, said participating in this donation drive compelled her to encourage others to help less fortunate people.
“I wanted to be a part of this because I felt bad for how much money Jackson’s mother has to spend on her son’s medicines,” she said. “I learned from this experience what it’s like to help someone in need and how important it is.”
According to information supplied by the Mayo Clinic’s website, leukemia is cancer of the body’s blood-forming tissues, including the bone marrow and the lymphatic system. Many types of leukemia exist. Some forms of leukemia are more common in children while other forms of leukemia occur mostly in adults. Jackson was diagnosed with the disease right after his third birthday.
“The money raised for Jackson, presented to his family at a special gathering at the school on January 22, will go directly to his family for his medical needs,” said Jones, friend of Jackson’s family and Cunningham Academy’s behavioral specialist. “We like to make the fundraising a competitive event for the students. Each cohort gets a donation box and the cohort that raises the most gets a special surprise, like a pizza party. A small portion of the money for Jackson was spent on things we know he likes. He loves Mr. Potato Head and Toy Story. We also got him some games and puzzles, but most of the money is going toward his medical needs. The students really got behind this giving drive. It was amazing.”
According to Lundy, every year Cunningham Academy partners with a different organization to raise funds for a good cause.
“The students have a real passion for this,” he said. “October was Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and we did the same thing for the mother of three of our students who has that disease. When she came to the school, she was really surprised when we presented the contribution. It was a very heartfelt moment, and she was so grateful. For the students, they learn that no matter how hard you might think things are for you, there’s always someone worse off. They learn to be grateful for the things they do have and also how to help and be supportive of one another. That’s something we work to instill in them.”
Cunningham Academy, partner to Vineland School District, is a transitional school that serves students who experienced disciplinary violations at their previous schools. Students will eventually return to their home schools with improved behavior, attendance, and academics. Camelot Education tailors a broad range of specialized solutions to the unique and varying needs of its school district partners.
Jai’vyon Webb, 12, said his favorite part of participating was donating to a family in need, and he might want to do his own fundraiser one day.
“If I were in Jackson’s situation I would want someone to help me,” he said. “I participated because I wouldn’t want someone to lose their life because I didn’t help. I learned that every dollar counts. What I really learned from this was that anyone can give to a family in need to help save someone’s life.”
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