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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

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How a Read-a-thon Can Help Change a Life ...Mine

OLQP learns that reading pays off even in tough times.

Students at Our Lady Queen of Peace in New Dorp learned whether their hard work to raise money for two important causes during their annual Readathon, despite the economy, paid off. This year's themes: “Making Life Sweeter for Shannyn and Friends” and the Fr. Gannon OLQP Scholarship Fund hit home.

Since her birth four years ago, the entire OLQP parish has been praying for a brave little girl, Shannyn Craig. Shannyn suffers from ACC (Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum), a birth defect in which the structure that connects the two hemispheres of the brain (the corpus callosum) is partially or completely absent. In Shannyn’s case, ACC has caused a wide variety of physical challenges. As a continuation of their commitment to Shannyn, the students raised money to donate to the NODCC (National Organization for Disorders of the Corpus Callosum) for research to help find a cure for ACC.

Money was also raised for the Fr. Gannon Scholarship Fund, named for OLQP’s beloved pastor who passed away last March. The scholarship will make it possible for a parish family facing financial challenges to send their children to OLQP.
You could hear a pin drop as Mrs. Michele Craig, Shannyn’s mother, told the nearly 500 students and many of their parents, “Although Shannyn cannot see and will never walk, talk, or do any of the things that all of you do, Shannyn feels the love, support, prayers and good wishes from all of you.”

The money raised far surpassed the $3,000.00 goal with the final dollar amount coming to $4,785.02. (As the students learned, “Every penny counts!”)

During the “kids helping kids” campaign, they read for donations, collected change, hosted a “dress down day” and sold ice cream and symbols cut out in the form of Hershey kisses. Students and families used the “kisses” to write personal notes to both Shannyn as well as to Fr. Gannon’s family. The symbols were then used to spell out a huge “We Can Help” message on the wall and later given as gifts to the Craig and Gannon families. Huge symbolic “candy jars” also graced the walls with personalized cut outs of candy representing each child. OLQP had 100% participation.

“This was truly a labor of love for the students and parent volunteers, who went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure we raised enough money, awareness and spirits for deserving recipients,” said Mrs. Susan Raisch, Volunteer Director of the Readathon.

A special partnership between eighth graders and kindergartners added to the success of the project. They teamed up to read, count pennies, eat ice cream and talk about what the Readathon is all about. Eighth grader Ashley Mooney explained, “What I learned in my years at Our Lady Queen of Peace is that it is important to help others. I feel privileged to be a part of this team.”

One of the students wrote a message on a “kiss” that reads, “Dear Fr. Gannon, Enjoy heaven. Don’t worry. We are helping Shannyn as much as we can.” That says it all.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

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