Russell Academy students gather half-million pennies to fight cancer

In addition to their participation in the “Pennies for Patients” campaign, learn how these sincere, young Parkrose students also helped raise awareness of blood-related diseases ‚Ķ

Margaret Goff, 3rd Grade Teacher at Russell Academy, welcomes Eric Tweed, the campaign coordinator for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society. They stand before the school’s “Window of Pennies for Patients”; on their wrists are the society’s red “Relentless” bracelets.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
On February 21, we were invited to a special, all-school assembly at Russell Academy of Academic Achievement in Parkrose.

“What’s so special about this assembly?” we ask third-grade teacher Margaret Goff.

“We’re having a celebration,” Goff beamed, “honoring the good work our students have done supporting the Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s ‘Pennies for Patients’ campaign. We’ve been doing a three-week fund-raising program, led by our Student Counsel.”

Connection with cancer
“I’ve had two students with leukemia, so this project touched home with me,” Goff said. “It grabbed me and pulled me.”

Goff’s enthusiasm fired up the school’s Student Council, which took on the project. “Every morning, using the school’s intercom, they gave facts about leukemia, lymphoma, and blood cancers to our students. They helped after school, every day, with the sales of bracelets and bears. And, they counted change every Friday,” the teacher reported.

Principal Jeff Rose asks his students to settle down – and within 30 seconds, you can hear a pin drop.

Drum roll, please
In some schools, quieting down kids in an all-school assembly can take a long time, plus quite a bit of effort by the teachers and aides.

But, we’re always impressed with the decorum of the students at Russell Academy. Principal Jeff Rose asked for the young students’ attention ‚Äì and in less than 30 seconds, the gymnasium was whisper-quiet.

Student Council members for each of the Russell Academy classes stand before their peers as the tallies are revealed.

As the Student Council members stood before their peers, a very professional video presentation, made by school staff members, showed the tallies. The students:

  • Purchased 285 $1.00 paper pennies,
  • Are wearing 195 “Red Relentless” Bracelets,
  • Gave new homes to 300 Plushland Bears and Dogs, and
  • Brought in and counted $2,037.06 in loose change.

Russell Academy third-graders Derek Williams and Taylor May present their school’s really big check to Leukemia Lymphoma Society’s Eric Tweed

A really BIG check
Presenting the check were third grade students Taylor May and Derek Williams.

“This was good, because it is helping people with cancer and leukemia so they can get better,” May said. “The best part is helping other people.”

With an unusually adult air, Williams added, “Some people have cancer. It isn’t their fault. It is good to help people feel better.”

All in all, the students’ Pennies for Patients campaign raised $5,257.02.

The jaw of Eric Tweed, campaign coordinator for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, dropped a little, and a big smile came over his face. He exclaimed, “This has been great to see how you students have been real go-getters. I’m excited how to see how well you’ve done. On behalf of the Society, we thank you!”

You can find out more, or pitch in your support for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society, by going to, or by calling (503) 245-9866.

© 2007 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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