Students fundraise for Leukemia and Lymphoma Society

Overhulser+and+Harpster+pose+together+during+their+visit+to+Rhode+Island+to+meet+with+other+LLS+teams.

Photo courtesy of Amy Overhulser

Overhulser and Harpster pose together during their visit to Rhode Island to meet with other LLS teams.

Organizing fundraisers, arranging scholarships, and asking for donations, all for a great cause. Senior Amy Overhulser and Junior Grace Harpster set out to run a campaign and raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LSS) branch of the American Cancer Association.

After hearing about LLS in her AP environmental science class and how she could help, Overhulser decided to get involved.

“I was interested in this cause because many of my family members have passed away due to cancer in its many shapes and forms, and I wanted to pay some tribute to them and help people who need it and who are going through the same thing my family members were,” Overhulser said.

The next step for her was to enlist a friend to run the campaign with her, before they could start the process on Feb. 3.

“Amy said that she had heard of this really cool thing and thought that I might be interested in doing it with her,” Harpster said. “A thing for us was we couldn’t find a way before to make an actual difference in the school, so we thought this was our chance to make a real difference in society, more so than just doing something for student council or something, which we’re both involved in. This was our opportunity as high school students to be impactful, so I was like ‘yeah, let’s do it.’”

With the team assembled, they started calling up companies and going door to door to get the word out.

“Our mission is to fundraise as much money as possible,” Harpster said. “We host fundraisers and spread the message of these cancers and how much of a real issue they are.”

Though LLS wasn’t particularly close to her heart at first, it quickly became special to Harpster as the campaign went on.

“We campaigned at the town primaries, and I had this woman come up to me and tell us how much of a difference we’re making, because she had a seven year old son forty years ago that passed away from cancer, so that meant a lot to me when she told us her story,” Harpster said. “Even though it didn’t affect me personally in the beginning, it has now impacted me so much more, because it has hit close to home for so many people that I care about that I wasn’t aware of before. It has really allowed me to broaden my horizons and appreciate the hardships of others and how we can help them.”

Their original goal was to raise a total of $10,000, but they quickly realized that was a bit ambitious.

“We’re working really hard, and our team is really dedicated, but it’s our first time doing this,” Harpster said. “So far, we’ve raised a little over $4,000, so now we’re hoping to raise $5,000-$6,000, but honestly any money helps, so it’s worthwhile regardless. We live amongst apple trees, so we don’t really have enough connections to get sponsors or anything, but we’re making do with what we have and trying our best.”

The money is important for the cause, but propagating LLS in the community is also one of their goals. They hope to make Lancers for LLS a yearly event.

“We’ve learned a lot for future groups that do it, for example plan all of your fundraisers in advance, definitely should have thought that through beforehand,” Harpster said. “You have to start somewhere, so hopefully we’ll be more prepared and raise more next year.”

Though their campaign will end on May 9, both girls want to continue to be involved with LSS in the future.

“It’s been the most self fulfilling experience I’ve ever had,” Harpster said. “You think that you’re making a difference, but then you actually have people come up to you in tears thanking us, and they can’t believe how young we are and that we want to make a difference like this. It’s just hit close to home for so many people, and it’s been so rewarding, more so than I ever imagined. I would love to do this again next year.”

Overhulser will leave for college and won’t be able to run LLS at Londonderry next year, but she still hopes to continue her work with the society.

“I think it would be awesome to start a campaign at my school next year as well,” Overhulser said. “I think that other people should join our campaign or start their own too, because the cause is amazing, and the amount of work people put into these campaigns and even the amount of work Grace and I put in is pretty inspiring. It just shows that this cause is worth even more than the time and money that we’ve put in thus far. The lives this organization is saving and the families they help are one of the many reasons I decided to do this campaign, so why shouldn’t you get involved as well?”

Harpster also wants to urge others to get involved, to help the cause and for the self fulfillment.

“There’s always the stick it on the resume component, but I’d hope that isn’t the whole motivation, because it’s so much more than that,” Harpster said. “You get to make connections and establish yourself within the community, and it’s a great chance to practice marketing skills and entrepreneurship, going to the companies, pitching your case, and asking for sponsorships, fundraisers, or donations. It’s a very rigorous commitment, but anyone can join, and we’re very open. The more the merrier, so come join us and get involved.”

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