Over the past several years, Watertown Middle School raised close to $200,000 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Pennies for Patients, and this week the school kicked off this year's fund-raising effort.
The drive runs for three weeks, through March 18, said Sajda Abbas, the eighth-grade class president.
"," Abbas said. "We were the highest school in the Maine, New Hampshire and Massachusetts region for the ninth year in a row and the third highest school in the country out of over 28,000 schools."
The effort earned the school special recognition from the New England Revolution soccer team, and a chance to go on the field at Gillette Stadium.
The school has plenty of inspiration to raise money. WMS physical education teacher Tom Johnson is a lymphoma survivor and the school lost two teachers, Pat Staynand and Peter Clough to the disease.
Two current seventh graders - Stamati Papastamatiou and Chris Koufos - survived their battle against leukemia.
Unlike some schools collecting for Pennies for Patients, Watertown Middle School does not have a corporate sponsorship, said teacher Eleanor Donato, though she said a number of local businesses support the effort. Instead they come up with creative ways to bring in donations.
"Every homeroom thinks of crazy ideas to raise money," Donato said. "One teacher will have the kids vote on a color and she will die her hair that color."
The school will also hold a student-faculty basketball game on Thursday, March 14 at 6 p.m. in the Watertown High School gym.
Those seeking to support Watertown Middle School's Pennies for Patients Drive can drop donations off at the school during regular school hours. Boxes are also placed around town, Donato said, and if you would like to have a box or if you have any questions, please contact Eleanor Donato at 617-926-7783 ext. 35507 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Donation can be sent directly to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, 9 Erie Drive, Natick, MA 01760. Please note that it is in support of the Watertown Middle School drive. Donations may also be made on line at: