“Every time I raise money, I feel good,” said Asesone Janoe, a third-grader in Pam Jones’ Julia Randall Elementary (JRE) class.
“We raised money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital,” said Kyler Smith.
“Because they have cancer and they’re really sick,” said Logan Plain.
All three children are in Pam Jones’ JRE third-grade class. To support Chili’s restaurant in its mission to raise $50 million in 10 years for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital, during the week of Sept. 19-23 the students in Jones’ class raised $238 in change from family, friends and neighbors — which earned them a lunch at the local restaurant.
Fund-raising in Payson schools for worthy causes, such as the American Heart Association’s Jump Rope for Heart campaign, teach children valuable principles of philanthropy such as compassion and responsibility.
“This was a schoolwide project that Connie Miller (office assistant at JRE) suggested the school support. This was such a good experience,” said Jones.
The mission of St. Jude’s is to research and create cures for devastating childhood illnesses, such as cancer. To aid families, no child is turned away from treatment — even if the family cannot pay.
The National Cancer Institute estimates one to two out of every 10,000 children under the age of 15 develop cancer in the United States. This makes cancer the leading cause of death for children in that age group.
As treatment options have advanced over the years, the rate of children either being cured or experiencing long-term remission has increased from 59 percent in the 1970s to 80 percent by the 2000s.
According to Chili’s Web site, (http://www.createapepper.com/OurCause.aspx), every dollar of the donations Jones’ class raised make a difference to the patients of St. Jude’s:
$5 purchases five infant heel warmers.
$10 buys rehab weights
$20 acquires a bone marrow needle
$50 funds a complete blood count test
$85 gains a set of crutches
$140 offers a single view chest X-ray
Because Jones’ class raised the most money of any class at JRE, the students received lunch at Chili’s.
The lunch proved an educational experience in itself.
Before going to Chili’s, Jones had a discussion about “restaurant manners” because the manners at a sit down restaurant vastly differ from a fast food restaurant.
Simply ordering food proved quite a challenge, since many of the children had never ordered before at a restaurant such as Chili’s.
“We forgot what we ordered. When all the food came the waitress said, ‘What kind of food did you have?’ Everybody was talking and not listening,” said Justine Sanchez.
But the waitresses had patience and finally delivered all the food. When questioned what they liked best about their waitress, Dallas Trickel answered:
“The one that brought my food.”
A tour of the restaurant added to the educational opportunity of the lunch. The Chili’s staff showed the students the kitchen and storage areas.
“The walk-in refrigerator ended up being the highlight of the lunch,” said Jones.
Asked why she believed her class raised more money than the others, Jones said it might have been because she has a personal connection to the pediatric cancer issue: a child in her life is a cancer survivor.
“The thought of children being sick affected the kids,” said Jones.
Because her family knows the cancer survivor, her high school-aged daughter donated a huge jar of coins and her husband emptied his pockets allowing her to bring in large bags of coins, which she felt might have motivated the children.
Hayze Chilton had another angle, “Like you can’t just go out and say, ‘Can I have money’ you have to tell them you’re raising it for sick kids.”