Fourth-grader school Madison Pieper recently organized a charity drive at her elementary school to give a child with a life-threatening illness something she doesn't have.
“Kids who have serious illnesses, they need a friend,” …
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Fourth-grader Madison Pieper recently organized a charity drive at her elementary school to give a child with a life-threatening illness something she doesn't have.A dog.“Kids who have serious illnesses, they need a friend,” Pieper, 9, said. “What's better than a dog, so cute and fuzzy?”For three weeks this September and October, Pieper asked fellow students at Parker Core Knowledge Charter School to crack open their piggy banks and dig through their pockets for loose change. Pieper dubbed the project “Pennies Collected for Kids,” an allusion to the school's initials.Those pennies added up.At an Oct. 7 school ceremony, Pieper presented a check for $1,004.72 to The Stinkbug Project, a nonprofit that provides a canine companion to families with a child fighting a serious illness. The cost for a dog is $750 and Pieper, who can't have a dog of her own due to her mother's allergies, hopes the extra money raised will provide supplies for the family and their new pet.The group was cofounded in 2010 by Pieper's cousin, Allison Winn. At the time Winn was battling cancer, which she nicknamed her “stinkbug,” and adopted a dog. The family appreciated the emotional and therapeutic benefits of their furry new friend so much that they started a charity to buy dogs for other families. Dogs are provided by the Prison-Trained K-9 Program at Colorado Correctional Industries.“When you ask children the issues that matter the most to them, kids with illnesses and animals… consistently come out on top,” said Lee Shaugnessy, program director for Rocky Mountain Children's Health Foundation, who oversees The Stinkbug Project.Giving rescued dogs to families with children battling serious illnesses is a perfect fit for children like Pieper's classmates, Shaughnessy said.“When you tell them what we do, they just go `Wow! That's awesome,' ” she said.Because of her family's connection to the group, Pieper nominated The Stinkbug Project to receive the donations, but for objectivity's sake she also named three other local nonprofits — The Kempe Foundation, which works to prevent child abuse and care for its victims, the Denver facility for blind children called The Anchor Center and The Barbara Davis Center for Juvenile Diabetes.Students voted for their favorite charity to receive the donated pennies and, in the end, Pieper's first choice won out. But a flyer Pieper designed to promote the drive read “everybody is a winner,” and she remained true to her word.After presenting the check to The Stinkbug Project, Pieper took $300 from her own savings and distributed it equally to the other groups.Pieper is already drawing up plans for her next project, her December birthday party. She plans to ask her guests to bring coats instead of presents, so she can give them to children in need.“It's basically like my present to them,” she said.The contribution from Pieper and her schoolmates gives her hope for the future, Shaughnessy said. "These kids learned that they have power. They're future philanthropists.”
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