College Point kids sharpen math skills in fund-raiser

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Getting elementary school students to do their math problems can sometimes prove difficult for teachers.

But instructors at PS 129 in College Point have come across a solution: Have students do math for charity.

This year students at PS 129, the Patricia A. Larkin School on 7th Avenue, have raised more than $2,500 for the St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn.

The fund-raising, which has become a tradition at PS 129, is a hit among the students, teachers said.

"They were excited," said Lydia Baez, one of the fourth-grade teachers who organized this year's campaign. "They were so proud once they heard the grand total."

The College Point school is participating in a national program run by the St. Jude hospital to raise funds for the hospital.

Founded in 1962, St. Jude treats about 4,300 children a year for catastrophic illnesses. Most of the patients at the hospital, which has four affiliate locations in the South and Midwest, have cancer.

The hospital also engages in research involving gene therapy, bone marrow transplants, chemotherapy and other treatments.

In the program, students at schools across the country fill out a "Math Funbook." They take on sponsors, usually family members, who pay them a certain amount for their work.

On Monday afternoon, students at PS 129 gathered in the school's auditorium for an awards ceremony honoring their fund-raising efforts.

Almost all of the students participated in the program and were awarded certificates. Others received T-shirts, while one student, who raised $270, earned a boom box.

"By you guys going around and getting pledges ... we will be able to help children who are a little less fortunate than ourselves, who are the same age as all of you," Craig Krupski, a fourth-grade teacher, told the assembly.

Traditionally, the fourth grade has been assigned the project. But this year the first grade also joined in the efforts.

The math project is not the only charity campaign at the school, said Principal Marilyn Alesi. The students also raise money for City Harvest, a non-profit that collects food for the city's hungry, and have constructed "Belonging Boxes," art projects filled with gifts such as pencil cases and cameras, for children in foster homes.

"This year has been a very giving year at PS 129," Alesi said at the assembly. "It's nice to be able to give sometimes, not just to take."

Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at or call 718-229-0300 Ext. 141.

Updated 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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