New Albany High School students have been using their talents and a little spare change to raise money for Nationwide Children's Hospital's cardiac-care unit.
Senior Drew Little, who is president of the high school's National Honor Society chapter, said Pat Farrenkopf, a parent and the district's gifted-program coordinator, helped inspire the honor society members to choose the hospital as beneficiary of the annual Spring Jam and penny wars.
Farrenkopf told the students about the cardiac-care unit, Little said.
But coincidently and unrelated to his peers' choice, Little said, he can offer a testimonial to hospital himself, having suffered from an abnormally fast heartbeat until about age 15.
"It is just a cool personal connection I have to the cardiac-care unit, and I was able to pass on my experience about the exceptional care that I received at Nationwide for over a decade," Little said in an email.
The annual Spring Jam is organized by National Honor Society members, with help from the high school's American Music Club, which scheduled the performers for the talent show.
This year's Spring Jam was Friday evening, March 14, at the high school's mini theater. The talent show featured 20 student acts; the event was expanded to include recreational games -- such as cards and ping pong -- in a separate room.
"We were trying to get a more diverse audience," Little said of adding the games. "We're trying to attract a more diverse audience this year and to celebrate the diversity in our school."
Little said local restaurants donated food or provided the students with reduced rates and donated gift cards that could be used as prizes for the talent show. Participating vendors included Raising Cane's, Bellacino's Pizza and Grinders, Northstar Cafe, Yogeez Frozen Yogurt, Subway and Starbucks.
The honor society charged $5 admission for the event and received proceeds from the food sold. Little said more than 250 students attended and an estimated $1,800 was raised.
The National Honor Society also was expected to net proceeds from the penny-wars competition to see which house -- the high school has eight such organizations that include the entire student body -- could collect the most spare change.
Last year's penny wars raised about $1,500, half of the $3,000 donated to the 2013 beneficiary, the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
Little said students in the other school buildings in the district also donated spare change, and he hopes to have an idea this week of the total amount the honor society will be able to donate to the cardiac-care unit.
He said the honor society's goal this year was to double participation in Spring Jam by getting 250 people to attend -- which it did -- and to double the amount of money raised to $6,000.
"I want to stress that without the entire community, this event would not have been made possible," Little said.
District spokesman Patrick Gallaway said the annual fundraising drive has long-term benefits for the students who organize it.
"With every fundraising opportunity, our students are not only helping people or working to support a cause, they are learning lifelong skills that will benefit them in the future," Gallaway said. "The ability to research a cause, create an appeal (and) identify with something that is personally meaningful to them is at the heart of any of these fundraising efforts. Additionally, they learn the art of persuasion, communication and the ability to market an ideas ultimately leading to earning support."