Some students said it was the lure of the Krispy Kremes doughnuts. Others said they just wanted to watch one of their teachers read school announcements on Channel One while wearing a pink tu-tu and clown shoes.
No matter what initially might have motivated them, students at Franklin Junior High School recently raised $3,382 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in its "Pennies for Patients" program.
Dalen Hodge, a Franklin science teacher, said the fund-raiser began as a project of the Builders Club, a school service club affiliated with the Brainerd Kiwanis Club. Hodge serves as the club's adviser.
The club has about 50 student members who meet twice a month and plan fund-raisers and other service projects. Earlier in the school year the club raised money to buy chickens and a sheep for a poor farming family in Argentina. They made homemade cards for Valentine's Day for children who were in the hospital. They also collected 90 winter coats in a recent coat drive for students who needed them.
When the club decided to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Hodge said he expected Franklin's 876 students to raise about $500-$700. Students held a competition between the classrooms. The eighth- and ninth-grade classrooms that raised the most money would get a Krispy Kreme doughnut party. Plus, the teacher whose classroom raised the least amount of money would be required to wear a pink tu-tu, clown shoes, among other humiliating clothing, and be forced to read the school announcements on Channel One television later this month.
The top eighth-grade classroom was Diana Heikilla's class, which raised $375 or $17.85 per student. Hodge's eighth-grade classroom was second with $227 raised, or $8.10 per student.
The ninth-grade winning classroom was Deirdre Swaggert's room, which raised $517 or $17.82 per student. Ninth-grade teacher Bryce Eaton's room placed second with $244 raised, or $10.60 per student.
The fund-raiser ended Feb. 22. It took employees at Northern National Bank in Brainerd two days to count all of the change the students brought to school, said Hodge.
"I'm absolutely astonished," said Hodge. "It became clear to me early on that the kids were going above and beyond."
"I cleaned my room and I had about $8 in change," said Aleisha Filsmyer, a Franklin eighth-grader. "It was fun."
The funds raised will help leukemia patients who can't afford treatments and also for leukemia research at the University of Minnesota and the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, said Hodge.
That's what enticed eighth-grader Justin Matich to bring in all of his loose change.
"I wanted to help the patients," said Matich. "If we needed help, people would help us so we have to give back and help them. My grandma died when I was 3 because she had tumors and that's why I care and wanted to help out."
Greg Gearey, a Franklin ninth-grade math teacher, will have the honor of wearing the pink tu-tu Hodge has ready and waiting for him, stored right now in his classroom.
"Mr. Gearey is going to look great in a tu-tu," said Hodge, as students in his classroom laughed.
"It was successful because we have great students and great teachers," added Hodge.
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