Pupils make a wish come true
They are helping to send a Struthers girl with leukemia to Disney World.
POLAND -- For weeks, third-grader Lauren Bodendorfer would walk over to the plastic jug and drop in some of her extra lunch money.
On Fridays, it was a dollar. On other days, it might be a dime or quarter.
She didn't know who might be the recipient of the money, and she didn't care.
Neither did the other 200 pupils at Poland North Elementary School who helped raise $5,800 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Ohio and Kentucky over a six-week period.
The foundation grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions.
"It was a good deed," Lauren said of the school's fund drive. "It's for people who really need it."
After the school reached its goal, it learned who the money will benefit: a 12-year-old Struthers girl whose wish is to visit Disney World.
The pupils had hoped to meet the girl and her mother Wednesday night during the school's spring program, which, fittingly, was titled, "Welcome to our Magic Kingdom."
"What better way to get her ready for Disney World then to listen to Disney music," said principal Michael Masucci.
But the girl, who has leukemia, was unable to attend because she was ill, Masucci said.
Still, the pupils hope to eventually meet her and present her with a school T-shirt, a Disney stuffed animal and an autograph book that Disney characters can sign when she visits. The girl attends another school, Masucci said.
Everyone chips in
Masucci said the fund drive, which exceeded its $5,000 goal, was a total school effort involving pupils and parents, faculty and staff. Local businesses and organizations also donated money, he said.
"Any individual or organization that contributed had their name placed on a star in our school lobby," Masucci said.
A thermometer hanging on a wall in the lobby was updated daily to show the school's progress toward its fund-raising goal. Pupils such as Chase Knodle, a third-grader, regularly checked the thermometer's temperature to see how much more money needed to be raised.
"It's good to help people get better, so their dream to go to places they want to will come true," Chase said.
Todd Bury, whose daughters Bailey and Bella attend the school, said efforts like the fund drive teaches youngsters to give back to the community.
"I think it's wonderful that at a young age, kids learn about helping out and giving back to others," Bury said. "Sometimes, they can learn more from events like this than they can in the classroom."