Students, faculty collect change for cancer cures

January 30, 2008

by Richard Wolfe

Students, teachers and children are uniting to fight cancer.

Students and faculty from A. E. Phillips Laboratory School and Gamma Beta Phi honor society will collaborate on a project titled Pennies for Patients to gather money for cancer research from Feb. 4-15.

Carynn Wiggins, director of A.E. Phillips, said the drive will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. She also said this is the fifth time the school has sponsored a Pennies for Patients drive.

“We do it in honor of Rosemary Reeves, our school secretary, because she is a lymphoma survivor,” Wiggins said. “So, we adopted this as our school charity.”

Wiggins said the money donated through Pennies for Patients will go straight to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

“It’s used to support research and to provide services for lymphoma and leukemia survivors,” Wiggins said.

She also said the school raised about $5,500 last year and around $3,400 the year before.
“We’re hoping to at least match what we did last year,” Wiggins said.

Donations range from several pennies to hundreds of dollars per donation.

“Our adopt-a-school sponsor, Community Trust, [will help] us count it,” Wiggins said. “They let us use their counting machines for free.”

Wiggins said the A.E. Phillips faculty would love to have Tech students help.

Sarah Jeffords, the Gamma Beta Phi Society president and a senior biomedical engineering major, said the members of Gamma Beta Phi will help A.E. Phillips raise money to benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society by bringing in spare change.

“Last year, A.E. Phillips donated the fifth highest amount of change in Louisiana,” Jeffords said. “With our assistance, they hope to surpass that amount this year.”

Jeffords said Gamma Beta Phi members also perform community service for numerous organizations in the Ruston community, such as The Boys and Girls Club, the Louisiana Methodist Children’s Home and the Alpine Care Center.

“This project highlights the willingness of students and faculty to help those in need,” she said.

Jeffords said she believes Pennies for Patients is an important project, and she is happy to get involved.

She also said getting involved in community service helps her realize how fortunate she is to be in a position to give back to society and to people less lucky than she.

“As a leader, I am very proud of the members of Gamma Beta Phi for donating their time and efforts to make a difference,” Jeffords said.

Reeves, who was diagnosed in 2001, said she has been cancer free for six years.

“I feel very blessed that [for] my disease, research had already found a viable treatment for it,” Reeves said.

Reeves said the students personally support the research by collecting and donating money.

“It almost makes me teary-eyed; the kids are very giving,” Reeves said. “It makes me feel very special that this is the reason they do this every year.”

Reeves said seeing the money come in is heartwarming.

She also said there are a lot of people who are hurting, and she feels she would not be living without this kind of research.

“When you go through something like this, you realize how important it is to support cancer research,” Reeves said.

Reeves said the children at A.E. Phillips have been touched by cancer.

“Within the last six years there were two other teachers who were diagnosed with cancer,” Reeves said. “There was one student who was treated at St. Jude’s.”

Reeves said she has never seen such giving hearts as those of the parents and children at A.E. Phillips.

“These children see [diseases] in their lives,” Reeves said. “It makes them feel good to be a part of curing these diseases.”