VANDALIA — Kindness, caring, friendship and consideration are just a few words that are not only painted on the walls of Morton Middle School, but put into practice by the Morton Student Body and Staff. Morton has participated in Pennies for Patients Project to raise funds and awareness for The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society over the past 15 years. During this time, the student body and staff have donated more than $30,500 to support local patients and blood cancer research.
This year’s campaign began like so many others over the past years at Morton Middle School. Pennies for Patients is always an exciting event for our students because they are allowed to “bomb” other homerooms with silver coins while attempting to raise more funds by placing pennies and dollars in their own boxes. While the ultimate prize for the students is a catered Olive Garden luncheon, the staff reminds everyone that competition is a fun way to raise money and awareness to beat this cancer.
Unlike in year’s past, soon after the campaign began on March 5, one of our sixth-grade teachers was informed that her three-year-old great nephew had just received a diagnosis of leukemia. After sharing the news with the other sixth-grade teachers and her own homeroom students, Morton staff and students knew that this year’s campaign was different. The sixth-grade students began putting all of their pennies and dollar bills in Mrs. Dukes’ box instead of bombing it with silver coins! The students wanted to show their support for young boy and Mrs. Dukes by giving up their own chance to win the luncheon. The personal story of this little boy’s journey touched the hearts of so many.
Of course, Mrs. Dukes and her homeroom were grateful and excited about their upcoming Olive Garden lunch. A few days prior, however, the General Manager at Olive Garden, Jodi Otten, heard about the giving nature of these remarkable sixth grade students, so she came to Morton with a surprise for the entire grade level.
Due to the students’ act of kindness, Olive Garden on Miller Lane catered lunch to all of the sixth grade students as well as their teachers. This was a generous gift from a local restaurant recognizing so many amazing young people at Morton Middle School.
The students and teachers want to send a huge shout out and thank-you to Jodi Otten and her staff that made this such an unforgettable experience!