Denise Roskey inaugurated and has guided Joyce Kilmer Elementary School’s charitable efforts to combat childhood cancer through donations to Alex’s Lemonade Stand for the last 13 years, but she’s hardly resting on her laurels.
Roskey’s goal for Kilmer this year was to reach a number never before attained in the school’s history – and when The Sun visited on May 24, they were nearly there: having collected almost $45,000 over the course of the fundraiser.
“We hope to reach $50,000 this year, and it’s being sponsored by CHEA Pride, which gave us a grant for all our materials and our refreshments. The fifth grade runs it all; they do projects on different childhood cancer heroes, and they learn all about where the donations go, and then we make it a community-wide event,” she related.
“I’ve been really surprised. If you look at the level of detail on some of the posters, it’s really amazing. I want this to be more than just a day out of class with some lemonade. I want them to understand that these kids are the ones they are helping,” said Roskey, on how she feels seeing each successive class at Kilmer take to the charity with such enthusiasm.
Students and teachers from both fourth and fifth grades tended to the lemonade stand, and made public appeals to passers-by and motorists for contributions. Kilmer’s fifth-grade students researched different childhood cancer heroes from the Alex’s Lemonade Stand website to create a “Childhood Cancer Hero Museum,” which was displayed on its front lawn across Chapel Avenue.
This year, Kilmer’s kids honored Owen Dodd, the son of fourth-grade teacher, Dina Dodd, who is celebrating 10 years cancer-free after suffering from a severe brain tumor.
Roskey checked in just before publication. She revealed that, after the one-day event plus a big online push during Memorial Day weekend, Kilmer managed to raise a total of $5,365, meaning that $50K goal was reached and exceeded.
While the lemonade stand took front-and-center, Kilmer was also simultaneously conducting a hair-donation campaign for the Children With Hair Loss Foundation.
Any students who were willing to donate at least nine inches of hair were able to have it cut publicly, right outside Kilmer’s front door, by professional stylists who also volunteered their time.
Fifth-grader Gabriella Dizon bravely stepped up during lunch hour, one of 18 students scheduled throughout the day to feel the chop for charity’s sake. She sat quietly while stylist Christine Swope worked delicately to cut her long, black hair.
“Denise has been running the lemonade stand for the last 13 years, and I think we’ve been running this concurrently for the last several years. Each year, it grows more and more,” said Elaine Zafiriadis, hairstylist and Haddonfield resident. “It’s so special for the kids, they get to cut their hair and their friends get to watch them. We’ve had kids who have done this every year.”
Zafiriadis mentioned one student in particular who managed to grow her hair out to the minimum length every year from kindergarten through fifth grade with only one exception that was only an inch short.
“Our purpose for the day is to show students that they can make a difference in this world at any age,” Roskey added.