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MOUNT EATON -- The money collected by Mount Eaton Elementary School for New Leaf Center was no drop in the change bucket.
The Southeast Local elementary school raised $2,100 through a weeklong change drive, more than doubling its goal of $900. The money will go toward purchasing medications for patients in need at New Leaf Center located in Mount Eaton.
The idea for a change drive benefiting New Leaf, which depends on donations for two-thirds of its operating costs, came from Sue Weaver whose son Josiah, a fifth-grader at Mount Eaton, receives treatment at the clinic for a rare genetic disorder affecting his heart.
Weaver remembered the substantial amount of money the school raised through a change drive three years ago for a Veterans Day project and suggested doing another one. She and Mount Eaton principal Patti Arnold pitched it to the Mount Eaton PTO, which fully supported the idea.
"Teaching (the students) to give back is really, really key," Arnold said. "It's neat because not only can we teach them to give back but (it also benefits) one of our families."
From April 24 to April 28, each classroom collected change in coffee cans decorated by students in the Dine & Discuss group, a leadership program started by Arnold. The Dine & Dash members visited each grade level to explain how the change drive would work and why they were doing it.
"There aren't a whole lot of things they can do but, whenever we have the ability for them to have leadership roles, they step in," Arnold said.
At the end of the week, Mount Eaton Elementary invited New Leaf's executive director, Barbara Reinford, to a small school assembly, where Arnold revealed the total amount raised. She then had Josiah present the check to Reinford.
"I'm so thrilled when children are encouraged to share with others and we're thrilled they chose us for their project," Reinford said prior to the event.
Pediatrician and medical director Dr. Olivia Wenger opened New Leaf Center in January 2013 to provide medical care to Anabaptist children with inherited disorders living in Northeast Ohio, primarily in Wayne and Holmes counties. Wenger has been a member of the Akron Children's Hospital medical staff since 2010.
Arnold planned to hold the change drive the first week of April but postponed the fundraiser for the school to help one of its families whose house burned down in late March. The school also donates items for newborn babies to the Mount Eaton Care Center every year and raises money for Relay for Life and the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Last year, the Dine & Dash students helped box up care packages to send to soldiers serving overseas and this past December, the entire school visited residents at Shady Lawn Nursing Home to deliver small gifts and sing Christmas carols.
"It's always fun to add community service projects and reach out to the community in new ways," Mount Eaton Elementary principal Patti Arnold said. "That's one thing that's always been prevalent in Southeast Local, the common thread of giving back, pulling together and community."
Reporter Emily Morgan can be reached at 330-287-1632 or email@example.com.