Oak Knoll Elementary School has raised more than $1,000 in just the first two weeks of its month-long Light the Night fundraiser for the national Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS).
“The society and the people they have working for them make it really easy to participate and they are really supportive,” said teacher and Student Council Advisor Brad McQuillan. “I am looking forward to seeing what numbers I can help to put out during my teaching career.”
McQuillan has been teaching fourth grade at Oak Knoll for 20 years. He started the fundraiser – previously called “Pennies for Patients” ’ – in 2013. Due to his continued efforts, the school was named the sixth top LLS fundraising school in the state in 2019, with more than $10,000 raised. Over the past eight years, McQuillan has helped raise more than $34,000 for the organization.
The updated campaign for the society is meant to light up the lives of people with cancer. The organization offers different ways to help that include organized walks, volunteer opportunities, retail campaigns and random acts of light to help children participate in a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Although the campaign has been changed and updated, the hard work and dedication of the staff and students at Oak Knoll remain unwavering. While the school has previously organized weekly fund collections, this year’s effort will span the rest of March.
Students at the school receive a flyer and small collection boxes to take home to family and friends. Staff have also been able to participate by donating “Dollars for Denim,” an effort that has already brought in $400 this month.
Oak Knoll Principal Kristy Baker has also supported donation efforts by having eggs smashed on her head after students reached their fundraising goal. While the whole school participates, student council members go above and beyond by creating posters to hang around the building.
“It has been very successful, and I am very proud of our accomplishments as a school … “ said McQuillan. “Especially for teachers who participate as well and facilitate it on their own. It is fun to see the student council bring in the posters, and it is nice to see them help out and find a cause and support it.
“I think the kids are happy to be involved,” he added, “happy to take part and be in a student club.”
Along with the fundraising efforts at the school, LLS offers an assembly to teach students about cancer. According to McQuillan, previous assemblies included stuffed animal blood and cancer cells to explain how cancer affects the body. Due to COVID, this year’s assembly was virtual, but students were still able to learn the background of their cause.
Now that McQuillan has become more familiar with the efforts of the Light the Night campaign, he hopes to create an opportunity for parents, staff and students to participate in one of the fall Light the Night walks..
Oak Knoll’s nonprofit groups for students include the Caring Kids Club, which offers students a chance to volunteer for the Ronald McDonald House in Camden and other charities.
“At the elementary level, I think it is important to instill this kind of volunteerism,” said McQuillan.
In order to join a team and become part of the fundraising effort visit the district website.