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New Haven raises funds to battle leukemia
New Haven Elementary School Peer Resource member Wesley Rice stands next to a Pennies For Patients poster on campus. Today is the last day of the schools fund-raising project to benefit the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. The goal is to reach $4,000. Donations are still being accepted today. - photo by Photo Contributed

As of Thursday, New Haven Elementary School has raised nearly $3,000 for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. The last chance for donors to help the students and faculty reach their goal of $4,000 is today during school hours.

The effort, which began in mid-January, is actually a project of the school’s Peer Resource group of seventh and eighth graders made up of 13 students. One of them is Allie Guzman, an eighth grader. Allie was the inspiration behind this school year’s fund-raising project, said Peer Resource adviser Shelley Dini, a special education teacher on campus. When she was in third grade, Allie was diagnosed with leukemia.

“When she was going through her treatment, New Haven did a coin collection for her and her family” to help with medical expenses as well as with the trips going back and forth to Stanford Medical Center for treatment, Dini explained.

Being part of the Peer Resource group that’s spearheading this fund-raiser is making her “excited, just to be able to give back,” Dini added. The good news: Allie is completely cured.

As an incentive, Principal David O’Leary announced that the classroom raising the most money will be awarded with a pizza party. But, said Dini, “Mr. O’Leary was kind enough to say, we’ll find a way to do a pizza party for each grade level.”

The final count of all donations made is being done today. All the money will go to the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

“We’re really hoping to hit $4,000 which is four times what we originally thought we’d collect,” said Dini.

But even if the final count will not get to that magic number, the result of this fund-raiser is still something that Dini finds overwhelming. “I didn’t think it would go like this,” she said of the semi-final count on Thursday.

And, definitely, she said, the students will “do this fund-raiser again” next year.

“I was so proud of them. I was super-inspired by them,” Dini said.

But what was most impressive is that “the whole school got really involved and excited. It was a very positive fund-raiser,” she said.