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New Lenox school’s charitable effort has pasta payoff

A sixth-grade class Bentley School New Lenox helped school raise more than $5000 for LeukemiLymphomSociety.  |  Supplied photo

A sixth-grade class at Bentley School in New Lenox helped the school raise more than $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. | Supplied photo

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Updated: March 22, 2013 9:55AM



Students at Bentley Elementary School in New Lenox were hungry for more than just pasta.

They could taste and smell victory — and they wanted it.

In a contest to collect the most loose change among all the fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classrooms, the real winner was the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, which netted $5,045 from the school in just nine days.

“I was stunned,” Principal Michelle Hall said. “I thought, ‘Are these numbers right?’ ”

The school’s goal was to raise $3,000 but it surpassed that in the first week, she said.

Heather Worden’s 26 fifth-graders eked out a victory over a group of sixth-graders by a mere $30, as they eagerly raised more than $1,000 to earn a free pasta party from Olive Garden, which is the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s partner in a national Pasta for Pennies fundraiser.

Pasta for Pennies is about making change that makes a huge difference in the lives of blood cancer patients. The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society funds research worldwide for blood cancer cures and therapies and provides free information and support services, according to its website.

Worden, who was diagnosed with leukemia when she was in sixth grade, obviously inspired her students.

She shared with them how much organizations like the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society helped her when, faced with a 10 percent chance of survival, she underwent a bone marrow transplant and chemotherapy.

That was 20 years ago, Worden said.

Her students responded with not only loose change, but donated $5, $10 and even $20 bills, she said.

“Their families were very generous,” Worden said.

From Feb. 4 to 14, daily announcements were made about the fundraising effort.

“We were in first place, but another class was catching up,” Worden said. “That motivated them even more.”

Her students were “ecstatic” when they were announced as the winners, she said.

While Worden’s fifth-graders dine on free spaghetti, Hall plans to “do something special” for the second-place sixth-grade class that collected $999.

“The kids really understood the need for this,” she said.



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