March 8, 2007

The annual pitch

Ok, folks, here the annual pitch.

Tomorrow is the end of our Pasta for Pennies campaign at good ol' Princeton High School.

Each year, I coordinate (along with Calen - common commenter around this here blog) a three-week fund raising campaign to gather together some cash for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. It's something that our school has been doing for eight years now and that I've been a part of for six, coordinator for three, and it's probably the thing that I am proudest of that I do each year.

In my first year at PHS, I didn't have a class during the period that we collected (and still collect) money, but I got roped into the campaign on a stupid bet, sacrificing my hair to the cause when the students beat their goal of $17,000 in the campaign. That year they raised more thatn $25,000 total, and I was totally hooked. I got to see kids who were already working their backsides off to keep up with their classes choose to spend another couple of hours each night collecting in front of Kroger stores; baking cookies and cupcakes between writing reports; and walking miles door to door in their neighborhood.

And they did - and still do - all of this to help out people that they've never met. They take schedules that are already bursting, and they add in countless hours of service because they enjoy doing it and because it's the right thing to do.

And I'm lucky enough to be able to give them a few pointers each year, to nudge their amazing hearts and minds into a slightly different direction from where they normally are. In the process, then, we help out a cause that has come to be very near and dear to me.

I know that the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society is a deserving charity. The mark that blood cancers leaves on a family is a horrific one and one that I hope never to see up close. This was brought home to me last summer when I watched the premiere of A Lion in the House as I saw the lives of five Cincinnati families get entirely and totally shattered in the time it took for a doctor to say one simple phrase to the children and adults: "It looks like you have cancer."

I give my time and money to this campaign for so many reasons, honestly, only the least of which is because the disease is horrible and my money might help someone who is suffering have a slightly better hour, day, month, life.

I give to this campaign because I love how I feel when the stressful part is over, when last weekend's 5K has been completed, and we're cleaning up, and the student helpers gather together for a picture. The absolute, utter bliss in my heart that I felt knowing that those kids were having a great time doing good for other people, that they were taking another step toward becoming amazing men and women, that they were maybe starting down a lifelong path of giving because of something that I had planned and that I had helped them want to do is a feeling that rivals the greatest moments in my life.

This year's campaign looks to fall well short of our $50,000 goal, but it isn't for lack of hard work by those students who have gotten involved. The students on the Pasta for Pennies committee and those in the classes that have bought into the campaign are doing amazing, wonderful work.

If you happen to have a few dollars lying around and would like to guide that money toward doing a little good, I would ask that any of you reading this make a donation to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Admittedly, your donation will help our total look a little better this year, but it will also do a lot of good as over 75% of the money raised by the Society goes toward patient services, education, and research - a figure that is rivaled by very few national charities.

And if you don't want to give to the LLS, find another charity to give your time, money, and heart to. There are certainly enough out there that could use your help.

If you do happen to choose to give to the LLS, feel free to ask a few friends to give as well.


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