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Reasons To Smile: Kids helping cool community causes

Area youngsters are always finding ways to put the fun in fundraising. They’re the focus of this Reasons To Smile segment with Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — They might not even be close to being old enough to drive, but they’re making quite an impact on local nonprofits in our area.

They're kids with causes— the focus of this Reasons To Smile segment with Newswatch 16’s Ryan Leckey.

When it comes to fundraising for charities, our area has some powerhouses, including these three from Northeastern Pennsylvania. A trio that rallied many to raise money for a special campaign to support the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and its mission to fight blood cancers.

"We have a program called Students of the Year. So this is what Lily, Lizzie, and Rorry were part of," Christina Cimino, of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, said. 

The “Students of the Year” campaign is a philanthropic leadership development program for exceptional high school students, just like Scranton Prep Junior Lizzie Neville.

"I was really excited to have the opportunity to fundraise money," Lizzie Neville said. 

Lizzie joined forces with Abington Heights senior Lily Wagner. The pair spearheaded a fundraising team for the “Students of the Year” campaign, which was called “No One Fights Alone.” 

A cause that was quite personal.

"My mom actually had leukemia around October 2019," Lily Wagner said.

Over seven weeks this past winter Lizzie and Lily helped raised $34,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s “Students of the Year campaign.” 

Donations came from family, friends, teachers, neighbors, and one powerful member they enlisted for their team, 10-year-old Rorry Maxwell. A fifth-grader at Good Shepperd Academy in Kingston, Rorry was named the 2021 Team Member of the Year after exceeding his fundraising goal. He shared his big news on social media.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey asked Rorry how he raised that much money. 

"It was a lot from my friends, family," Rorry Maxwell said. "School allowed me to do fundraisers, and we raised a lot of money doing that."

Rorry also talked about his fundraising goals. 

"I was just there for the $500 goal, and it kept raising it because they were getting so much donations, and then my mom and my dad raised it to $5,000. I didn't expect for us to get $11,000," Rorry said. 

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey asked Christina Cimino from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society about the impact that money has on the people in Northeastern and Central Pennsylvania.

"We have financial assistance programs that are open to those going through a treatment of a blood cancer, so they vary such as travel assistance, whether that be local, national, maybe it's helping with everyday needs, such as groceries, putting gas in the car so they can go to appointments and such," Cimino said. "And then, of course, it is going to research as well to help create better treatments and ultimately cures for different blood cancers."

In all, this past winter, the Students of the Year Campaign that involved youngsters from the Greater Lehigh Valley to Northeastern Pennsylvania…raised more than $333,000. That’s about $100,000more than last year’s campaign class total. 

Despite a pandemic, the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Students of the Year campaign had the highest fundraising total to date in our area’s history.

All thanks to some determined young people willing to show up for strangers, raise cash for an important cause, and give others a Reason To Smile.

The whole goal of the Students of the Year campaign is to encourage youngsters to participate in friendly fundraising competitions, earn leadership skills, and more.

You can learn more about LLS at this link.