Staff members and students at Ressie Jeffries Elementary School in Front Royal raised more than $12,500 in four days for a first-grader who needs a liver transplant.
Still counting the coins and dollars donated through the school’s change drive, Assistant Principal Matthew Hopple said on Friday afternoon that he was blown away by the response.
“We’re just a small Title 1 school down here,” he said. “A lot of our kids, they’re probably struggling as well.”
When staff considered the idea about a week ago, he said he expected to pull in about $2,000 total.
In the end, Hopple said, more than 60% of the student body donated something, even if it was just a few coins.
Staff raised $2,000, “and the rest came from our students,” Hopple said. “It was more than we could ever imagine.”
Patricia Atkins’ third-grade class, with the help of PE assistant Tammy Shell, raised $2,048, Hopple said.
Three other classrooms each raised more than $1,000, and one exclusively virtual class raised $350, Hopple recalled.
Fifth-grade teacher Mallory Trowbridge’s two sons, Easton in third grade and Camden in first grade, baked goodies to sell to the teachers on Wednesday, raising about $150.
There were 37 students who each contributed more than $100, Hopple said.
The money will go to the family of 8-year-old Mason Langlais, whom Hopple said is suffering from dyskeratosis congenita, which the National Organization of Rare Diseases, a nonprofit patient advocacy group, describes as “a rare genetic form of bone marrow failure, the inability of the marrow to produce sufficient blood cells” at its website rarediseases.org.
It’s a life-limiting disease that makes Mason tired, lethargic and weak, Hopple said.
“His body is kind of failing him.”
Mason has been in and out of hospitals up and down the East Coast, Hopple said, and recently returned from a trip to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
The school’s fundraiser is one of several that the community has organized to cover Mason’s medical bills, including an upcoming June 19 benefit from 3 to 8 p.m. at 1481 Hazard Mill Road, Bentonville, and a GoFundMe crowdfunding campaign started by Jeni Colter that, as of Friday, has raised $3,250 with a goal of $25,000.
On Friday, the school thanked contributors with a two-fold celebration included as part of its annual Standards of Learning pep rally to congratulate students in the third, fourth and fifth grades taking SOL tests.
Mason, who’s been taking virtual classes all year during the COVID-19 pandemic, attended with his family.
Skyline High School sent over its band and cheerleaders for the festivities, Hopple said.
And the 37 students who each donated more than $100 got to pie staff members in the face.
“We went through a lot of whip cream,” he said.
For information on the June 19 benefit, visit tinyurl.com/k3x7xakf.
For information on the GoFundMe campaign, visit tinyurl.com/mps7zknn.