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Elementary school students raise funds for Ronald McDonald House 

Park View Elementary School's third grade student council

Park View Elementary School's third grade student council presents a check for more than $2,400 to Matthew Campo, CEO of Ronald McDonald House New York Metro, on Friday in Kings Park. The students raised the funds with car washes and by collecting coins. Credit: Danielle Thompson

Students from Kings Park’s Park View Elementary School last week donated $2,452 to Ronald McDonald House Charities New York Metro, a small fortune made by washing cars and collecting coins that the charity will use to aid families with sick children.

It was the most the school's students had raised in five years. "They give it to parents of sick kids so they can stay with their kids while they’re getting better," said Sadie Froelich, 9, a member of Park View’s third grade student council. "They comfort them."

Olivia Fligman, 9, also a member of the council, described the fundraising efforts: a car wash that cleaned about 150 cars at $10 a pop at Kings Park High School over the spring and quart-sized jars in each classroom.

"My mom sometimes sent me in with some money and I put it inside the coin jar." Some of these jars "filled up to the top and were heavy," and when all that money was counted it came close to $900, she said.

Donors included Cailyn Cristiano, 8, a second-grader who gave $50 from her communion money.

Donations from school groups comprise about 10% of Ronald McDonald House’s annual operating budget and were more vital than ever this year because the pandemic forced cancellation of galas and golf outings, said Matthew Campo, the organization’s CEO, who visited the school Friday to accept the check.

Ronald McDonald House typically spends $5 million a year, he said; this year it was $4 million after cuts the organization made "just to survive," he said. "It’s been super difficult … It makes these types of efforts that much more meaningful."

The organization operates a 42-bedroom respite in New Hyde Park for seriously ill children undergoing treatment at area hospitals and their families. It also operates one family room at Stony Brook Hospital with another on the way, Campo said.

Friday’s event and the last few days of school were bittersweet for Traci Smith, a second-grade teacher, and Dana Farrell, a kindergarten teacher, the council’s faculty advisers. The third graders are moving on to R.J.O. Intermediate School and "it’s always sad to say goodbye," said Farrell. But, said Smith, "We are so proud of what they accomplished this year."

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