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Staten Island Kids at Our Lady Help of Christians Pick Charity Every Month, Raise Money to Support It

By Diane C. Lore

Second-grade teacher Deirdre Murphy Cruz has a penny for her students' thoughts on how they can help make a difference in their community.

Since the beginning of April, she and her students at Our Lady Help of Christians School on Yetman Avenue in Tottenville have been collecting "Pennies for Parkinson's" to benefit the national Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

A family connection to Parkinson's disease inspired Mrs. Cruz to get her class involved in the cause. "Pennies for Parkinson's" was adopted as part of the school's "OLHC Cares" program. The program takes place every month of the school year and a different charity is chosen each month.

Mrs. Cruz's students and parents have been collecting small change throughout April for Parkinson's Awareness Month. To date, the children have raised over $100 toward their class goal of $200.

Combining both religion and math skills, Mrs. Cruz said she saw the opportunity to teach her students a lesson in charity. "I also saw an opportunity to show the students a fun way to learn lessons in how to compute, add and subtract money, and counting and sorting, which is part of their math standards," she said.

She also hopes "Pennies for Parkinson's" will serve as a lesson to her students on how everyone can play a part in making a difference and help raise funds for research.

"Parkinson's disease is one of those diseases you do not hear much about. I want to help any family I can by contributing as much as we can raise," Mrs. Cruz said.

Parkinson's disease is a progressive neurological disorder that affects nearly a million people in the United States. Although research is being conducted, there is currently no cure for Parkinson's.

Mrs. Cruz's 7- and 8-year old students seemed to have grasped the lesson.

Student Jamie Grosso said she wanted to raise money "to find a medicine to help the people" with Parkinson's disease.

Frank Mullone said he raised his pennies by redeeming deposits on beverage bottles he had collected. "My mom and dad helped me because I like to care for other people," he said.

"These are little children doing great things for others, and I am so proud of them" said Mrs. Cruz.

"The work of Mrs. Cruz and her students reminds us that the fight against Parkinson's disease comes in all shapes and sizes and that every donation makes a difference," added Robin Elliott, executive director of the Parkinson's Disease Foundation.

To support Mrs. Cruz' fundraising efforts or to get your school involved in the Parkinson's cause, contact the Parkinson's Disease Foundation at (800) 457-6676, email info@pdf.org, or log on to the website www.pdf.org.

Source Date: May 01 2013
Source Publication: Staten Island Advance
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