Shriya Penmetsa | Staff Editor

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Photo contributed by Lauren Richardson

Middle schoolers have proven that every penny does count.

National Junior Honor Society raises money every year for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society through a fundraiser called Pasta for Pennies. The money helps fund cancer research and aid families affected by blood cancer.

Eighth grade Spanish teacher and NJHS co-advisor Lauren Richardson said this year has been the all time high for money raised.

“It’s over $22,000,” Richardson said. “It used to just be something on the side and last year we pushed harder than in years past, but this year it was just unbelievable.”

Richardson said the passion that was put into the fundraiser year is what made it different from past years.

“I think the ideas that NJHS came up with; from the announcement ideas to the incentive ideas and our promo was much better than it has been in years past,” Richardson said. “We just went into it with a big heart.”

Eighth grader and co-president of NJHS Aron Olegnowicz said that any goal is accomplishable with the right attitude.

“You think that it’s going to take years (to raise money), but here we were at it for less than 2 weeks,” Olegnowicz said. “With hearts and commitments and passions we were able to slug out our goal and kill it.”

NJHS co-president and eighth grader Anna Mullinger said it’s our duty to give back to causes like Pasta for Pennies.

“(It is especially important) since we live in Mason and it’s a very nice area and we’re so lucky to be born (here) or move to this area,” Mullinger said. “Helping people out is our duty because we have so many things we take for granted. Not helping somebody else out would be a waste.”

Olegnowicz said we should always make sure to think of the struggles many others are going through.

“We’re so blessed to be in (this) community that we often forget that some people are going through tremendous struggles. Loved ones are being lost, battling it out against terrible illnesses,” Olegnowicz said. “By donating and being passionate with a small interface, we can make a huge difference. The best part about it is how much you can enjoy (it) knowing that you’re changing lives through the cause that you’re helping.”

Richardson said NJHS owes its success of the campaign to all of Mason Middle Schools’ students and staff.

“I think that the biggest thing that we can do is continue to educate ourselves about how our money can go and back up research and how that research saves lives,” Richardson said. “It really was an MMS family effort. I think that if we all wouldn’t have put the heart and energy into it that it wouldn’t have been as successful as it was.”