Selling candy and carnations to fellow students allowed the Wapakoneta Middle School DARE Council to make a difference in the lives of children battling life-threatening illness.
From the sales of candy bars at Christmas and carnations and candy for Valentine’s Day, the DARE Council was able to raise $1,000, which officers of the club presented Monday to Debbie Butner, manager of the Children’s Miracle Network, at the Dayton Children’s Hospital.
While at the facility, students were given a tour and were able to see in what areas their donation may be used. One possible device discussed for which the money might be used is a vein locater, making it easier to locate vein access for IVs and better ensure the possibility of nurses only needing to make one needle poke on young patients.
Auglaize County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Samuel Blank, who heads the DARE program, said it is the second year for them to make a donation like this to the hospital.
“Originally, it started as a Christmas thing, for the students to understand that not everyone has the ideal situation,” Blank said, noting that Wapakoneta Middle School has had students at the hospital for treatment.
He said he wanted the 40 sixth- and seventh-graders in the council to understand that illnesses can affect every demographic.
“I think it was a humbling experience for them,” Blank said, sharing that the students he took were all genuinely interested in the tour, and some even expressed interest in entering the medical field.
The DARE officer said he wished he could take more youth to visit the hospital, which the group plans to continue to support with donations, as the hospital staff are able to do so much with the money.
“The effort they put forth to raise money will go directly into helping the hospital and patients there,” Blank said of DARE Council members, who are to be invited back to appear on-air for the hospital’s telethon in June.
Kayla Crawford, vice president of the student group aimed at giving children the skills they need to avoid drugs and violence, said she joined DARE to help others not make mistakes as they grow up. She wanted to give to the hospital to make a difference.
“What I got out of the visit to the hospital was how precious life is, one day you could be healthy as a horse and then bam, be in the hospital because you got diagnosed with cancer or get in a car accident,” Kayla said. “It makes you think, when you’re taking breaths now, others are taking their last breath.”
She shared how sad it was seeing patients in wheelchairs or in their beds.
“I personally wish I could raise millions of dollars and donate it to hospitals so people can find a cure for it,” Kayla said. “I hope our donation helps with finding cures for different illness and for equipment that helps the patients at the hospitals.”
She said seeing the smiles on the faces of the children who were sick is why spending her time selling candy and flowers was worth it.
“Lots of people don’t even realize how happy they should be and how grateful you should be, too,” Kayla said. “Too many people are worked up on drama, name brand clothes and shoes, how their hair looks, how their figure looks, but all that doesn’t matter. You should spend every second of every day happy — happy for what you have and happy for how you are.”
Sarah Pothast, sergeant-at-arms for the DARE Council, said she wanted to help with this project because she knows there are people struggling because their child is suffering in the hospital and she wanted to understand more how their lives are at the hospital and what they go through.
Sarah said she learned a lot from visiting the hospital, including a better understanding of how their technology is helping people.
She talked about rooms at the hospital where families could relax and visit and special rooms for children to play without worrying about what is going to happen to them next. There are libraries where parents can look up information on illnesses or the young patients can use the computer, check out movies or funny books.
“All the workers there are making their patients feel like they are at home or comfortable,” Sarah said.
She said she hoped DARE’s donation would help with more technology or toys or house warming gifts to make the children and families feel at home and get them the treatment they need to get better soon.
“The time I put into working to raise the money for the donation was definitely worth it because I know that money will go toward expensive appliances the patients need,” Sarah said.
Especially touched by a little boy that said “hello” and “goodbye” to them with a big smile on his face, Sarah said that alone made it all worth it.
“It makes you think about how we are changing a lot of patients’ lives,” Sarah said.