Move over COVID-19 – the Student Council at Johnston High School is not about to let the pandemic, or anything else for that matter, stand in the way of raising money, especially when the mission is to help families whose children have been stricken with cancer.
The JHS Student Council, which is made up of 25 students – six members from each class – held another prolific presentation last week and presented a $1,000 check to Lisa M. Abbenante, executive director of the award-winning and highly-acclaimed Tomorrow Fund that’s based at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.
“To raise money, the Student Council holds Dress Down days on Friday’s during the school year,” said president Rebecca Clements. “Officers from each class volunteer to come into school early that day and set up a breakfast for the teachers, who in turn donate money to be given to the group’s choice of charity.”
In keeping with tradition, as Clements said with a special smile on her face, “we again chose The Tomorrow Fund. We all think it is a great way to raise money for different organizations, especially the tomorrow Fund.”
Moreover, as Clements and each of the Student Council’s top officers related during the fun-filled presentation: “It is also a good way to get the teachers involved. They really enjoy getting to dress down and have a treat on Fridays, while giving generous donations to the organization we are raising money for.”
To which Greg Russo, who has long served as the Student Council’s faculty advisor and has created many unique programs on Cherry Hill, added: “This donation was extra special, given the pandemic, etc., and everyone enjoys donuts, banana bread, juice, granola bars, muffins and of course a nice good morning cup of coffee.”
The annual breakfast, which held outside the main office or inside the Janice D. Mele Memorial Library, is always special and features a menu made up by members of the Student Council.
Charlene Hohlmaier, who is president of the JHS class of 2022, and Josephine Olagundoye, president of the class of 2023, took part in presenting the appreciative Abbanante the check that totaled $1,000.
“This is always extra, extra special,” Abbanante said of the Student Council’s annual donation. “A diagnosis of childhood cancer is devastating and changes everything, not only for the patient, but for the family. The unexpected journey these children and families face is life altering. Each journey through childhood cancer is different; different diagnosis, different treatments and sadly different outcomes.”
Yet, as Abbanante emphasized: “One thing is true for all families, they need additional assistance beyond medical care to cope with the many challenges and harsh realities that accompany this traumatic disease. For this reason, The Tomorrow Fund exists and its groups like the Student Council that have since 1985 provided financial and emotional help through their many unique fundraising programs.”
To date, The Tomorrow Fund – which is solely a nonprofit and depends grants, gifts and generosity from the community -- has helped more than 2,000 children and their families.