SMMS gives change for leukemia |

SMMS gives change for leukemia

Nobody can accuse the students at Sierra Mountain Middle School of being penny pinchers.

SMMS students have donated more than $1,700 in small change to Pennies for Leukemia, a fund-raiser by the Leukemia Society of America. Students more than doubled the $850 amount raised last year.

“They all really came through in an outstanding way,” said Rachel Falk, SMMS counselor.

One of the Leukemia Society’s patient honorees is 4-year-old Zachary Hanham of Truckee, who has lymphoblastic lymphoma.

Last year, special prizes were given to the students who donated the most pennies, but this year, students did not receive prizes – yet they still raised much more than last year.

“We’re all really proud of what’s been accomplished here,” Falk said. “I think having Zachary be so special to everyone locally really got the students’ attention.”

One notable donation was made by SMMS sixth grader Andrew Mazzini, who donated a whopping $135 of his own money to the fund.

Andrew had received $100 from his grandmother for a Christmas gift, and also had $35 in small change he was saving up for a guitar. He decided to donate it all to Pennies for Leukemia.

“Zach’s brother was on my baseball team and he was pretty sad sometimes,” Mazzini said. “I just wanted to do something to make them feel better.”

Parents, local community groups and more helped add to the estimated $1,703 raised, said Falk.

“We would like to thank all the community members who came in and donated money, and to the Mariani family for their generous donation,” Falk said. “A very special thank you to Mr. Bruno and the leadership class for their generous donation of profits from the Valentine Grams.”

Approximately 85 percent of the funds raised will directly benefit the Leukemia Society’s research, while the other 15 percent goes to their administrative costs.

Nationally, school and youth programs raised more than $11 million to help fight leukemia last year.

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