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Students collect coins for GraceWay Recovery Center

Photo by Laura Williams

Photo by Laura Williams

Spare change added up quickly recently for Deerfield-Windsor Lower School students.

In a Make-a-Difference Day project that was spearheaded by the 13-student fifth-grade organization The Order of the Round Table, students collected loose change to raise money for Albany's GraceWay Recovery Center residents.

Members of the Round Table created posters and collection containers for the 23 rooms at the Albany private school. The members also helped transport the money to the downtown Albany Regions Bank with Lower School Director Cary Stoudenmire.

After it took Regions Bank officials more than five hours to count the coins because its coin-counting machine having problems with some of the buttons and safety pins that accidentally were donated with the change. The students' efforts totaled $2,962.62, which they presented as a gift with Stoudenmire to GraceWay Development Director Liz Dixon.

"I was very proud of the children," Stoudenmire said. "I think the lesson that the children learned is that when everyone contributes in a small way it can add up to a big deal."

The efforts of the students was enough to sponsor a new resident at GraceWay, Dixon said in a thank-you letter to Deerfield students.

It's always great to see money raised for a worthy cause, but when children are the ones doing all they can to raise the funds, it's even more impressive. The fact that the students only had three weeks to earn $2,962.62 through asking parents and others for spare change is something they likely won't soon forget.

PINK CARE: To support and honor a co-worker who was diagnosed with breast cancer in July, Albany State University staff members in the Office of Fiscal Affairs each wore pink to the office recently. The women did it to show their support of Katherine Laster.

"Wearing pink is the least we can do for Ms. Laster and her victory over breast cancer," said Ashley Freeman, budget assistant in Fiscal Affairs. "We are all like a family, and we really care about each other. We just want her to know that we are here for her and care about her, so this was just a small gesture of love."

The small gesture meant a great deal to Laster. She also hopes her experience will not only bring awareness to cancer, but also motivate others to get checked regularly.

"I think it is so important that we do not take (cancer) as something private," said Laster, who is currently cancer-free but must complete the treatment process. "People cannot express love and support if they do not know. No one has to go through this alone because so many women are affected by this each year. If I can, through my story, help just one other female get through this, then I know my living is not in vain."

Workplaces aren't always places where people experience love and support, but it's clear such things are in abundance in Albany State's Office of Fiscal Affairs. By going out of their way to support Laster, the co-workers made her battle with cancer their fight as well. Their compassion won't likely soon be forgotten by Laster and those touched by cancer in the community.

BUSY BUSINESS: It would be hard to find a group more busy these days than the Dougherty Comprehensive High School's Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA).

Since late September, the group has participated in the Albany State University homecoming parade, conducted a leadership development workshop, had its annual recruitment/ social activity and took part in the annual Alzheimer's Association Memory Walk.

They also attended a fall Motivational Rally in Perry, completed several Breast Cancer Awareness Month activities and presented trick-or-treat bags to Jackson Heights Elementary.

I heartily applaud the group's adviser, Dorothy Lewis. I was part of my high school's FBLA group and can't remember doing as many activities in one school year as these students have done in about a month.

Besides learning how to be better leaders, these students are helping our community in various and important ways. For example, when they gave the treats to the Jackson Heights students, they spoke to the children about the importance of getting an education and extending their school years behind high school. They also learned about helping others by distributing breast cancer awareness gift bags.

I'm simply in awe of these students and hope many other student organizations pick up on all the community service projects Dougherty Comprehensive's FBLA does on a monthly basis. They are one more reason to believe the best about our community's young people and why so many of them are worthy of praise.

If you have education story ideas and items that you think would work well in this column, feel free to contact me either by phone at (229) 888-9355 or via e-mail at ethan.fowler@albanyherald.com.