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GREECE - Every day during March, students at Greece Arcadia Middle School brought in pocket change, loose change and all the change they scouted out from beneath their couch cushions.
When they added it all together, they raised more than $1,800 to benefit the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients program
"It's amazing that we used change to make a change," said Thais Nelson, 12, a sixth-grader and member of Team 6 Leo, one of three sections of sixth-graders at the school. The 6 Leo team alone raised 84,215 of the 182,166 pennies raised by the entire school.
"I am so proud of them all," said Karl Neilsen, a math teacher and one of 6 Leo's advisers.
School counselor Cindy Ingerick said this was the second year in a row that Arcadia students embarked on a fundraiser for charity. Last year, the school raised $1,000 and this year, the 850-student school set a goal of bringing in $1,100.
"They really deserve recognition for doing something amazing," she said.
For raising the most money in the school, the 6 Leo team celebrated Thursday with a pasta and pizza lunch.
Carly Meyers, 12, said she was motivated to raise money because a friend's mother recently died of cancer. She said she was inspired by her friend's strength and a touching tribute she'd posted on Instagram.
"That really touched my heart," she said.
Student Irianna Lopez said it was important for her to raise money for cancer research because she has a cousin who's suffered with the disease. And, she said, her team's success is a reflection of Arcadia's strong spirit, where the mascot is a Titan.
"I'm proud to be a Titan because Titans never give up," she said.
Natalia France, 11, also a sixth-grader, said she learned an important lesson by participating in the fundraiser: "No matter how small we are, if we work together we can make a difference."