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Way to go! Valerie Zappola of Deer Park

Valerie Zappola, a fifth-grader at John F. Kennedy Intermediate School in Deer Park, organized a two-week drive last month that collected 1,000 art supply items for children hospitalized with chronic illnesses and for at-risk youths.

Donations went to Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip, and Hope for Youth, an Amityville nonprofit that offers activities and programs to at-risk youth.

"I thought I'd collect a lot, but I wasn't sure it would be that much," said Valerie, 10, who conceived the project to help earn her Bronze Award with Girl Scout Troop 903.

To solicit donations, Zappola hung up fliers around the school hallways and made announcements over the loudspeaker inviting students to deposit art supplies in a donation box set up in the school lobby.

Items included coloring books, crayons, markers, colored pencils and puzzle books.

"The kids here, on a whole, do a lot to help the community, but this was over and above," said principal Susan Bonner. "Every day we came in, and the box was filled to the top."

In her spare time, Valerie dances at David Sanders Dance Dynamics in North Babylon. She said she hopes to continue the art supply collection next year.

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