St. Jude supporter Sherry Anderson has worked at several schools over the years. With each move, she’s always taken two things with her: her love of children and the St. Jude Math-A-Thon.
The St. Jude Math-A-Thon, America’s largest education-based fundraising program, helps students nationwide refine their academic skills while they learn the importance of helping kids just like them — the brave patients at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.
After years of helping kids subtract, divide and multiply for St. Jude, Anderson was presented with her own problem to solve. Her new school last year, Oak Grove Central Elementary in Hernando, Miss., had never before participated in the St. Jude Math-A-Thon.
For Anderson, this simply didn’t add up. Located just south of the Tennessee/Mississippi state line from the St. Jude campus in Memphis, Tenn., Oak Grove Central’s tight-knit community of 650 students presented the perfect opportunity to support the St. Jude mission: Finding cures. Saving children.®
Once kids understood that their pennies made that difference, donations started pouring in. Students brought in money they had been given by the tooth fairy. Some kids brought in their allowance, or money they had earned cutting lawns over the summer.
Anderson immediately picked up the phone and called St. Jude. “I knew I wanted to bring the opportunity I had at my previous school to Oak Grove Central. I wanted the students and staff to feel what I felt. I called St. Jude and said, ‘I want to be a Math-A-Thon Coordinator, where do I start?’”
Anderson rounded up her fundraising team and let students know that the kids of St. Jude were “counting” on them to ensure that no family receives a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing or food.
Within two weeks of their Math-A-Thon kick-off, Oak Grove students had raised more than $25,000, solidifying Oak Grove Central as the number two Math-A-Thon event in the country for the 2017 – 2018 school year.
Anderson’s secret to success? Sharing the St. Jude mission with her students.
Each morning, during the daily announcements, Anderson would tell stories of St. Jude patients and teach students about the research taking place at St. Jude.
She even led students through a quick math lesson: if the childhood cancer survival rate was 20% when St. Jude opened its doors, and the survival rate is over 80% today, how much have treatments invented at St. Jude increased likelihood of survival?
“Once kids understood that their pennies made that difference, donations started pouring in. Students brought in money they had been given by the tooth fairy. Some kids brought in their allowance, or money they had earned cutting lawns over the summer.”
Hitting such a lofty first-year fundraising goal in such a short time was hugely rewarding for the Oak Grove Central community.
Their Math-A-Thon week culminated in a school-wide pep rally to celebrate the accomplishment. Students beamed with excitement and waved homemade signs that read “Oak Grove Loves St. Jude.”
For Anderson, the win was made exponentially better by seeing Oak Grove students develop empathy for St. Jude patients and their families.
Fundraising for St. Jude was amazing, and I hope that we continue doing this. But, one of the greatest rewards was when students would come up to us and say, ‘Thank you for giving us the chance to help the kids at St. Jude.’ That right there, that’s powerful. I hope that I’ve instilled something in them and that they continue to support St. Jude throughout the course of their lives.
Ready to do the math?
Join thousands of schools helping the kids of St. Jude Children's Research Hospital through the St. Jude Math-A-Thon, America's largest education-based fundraiser.