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TUSD students raise $27k for children with heart disease
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Logan Dellis of Wakefield Elementary jumps for joy upon finding out that he was selected from a drawing to meet Colin Kaepernick. - photo by Photo Contributed

Thirty children will have the opportunity to attend a summer session of Camp Taylor, a camp for children with heart disease, thanks to the efforts of the Turlock Unified School District students who raised $27,400 through a coin drive.

Congenital heart disease is the number one birth defect that affects 40,000 infants a year and Camp Taylor aims to provide children with heart disease the opportunity to attend a free summer camp where their condition does not divide them from other children, but rather unites them. Known for their partnership with Turlock native Colin Kaepernick of San Francisco 49ers fame, Camp Taylor ran a pilot coin drive, titled Coins for Kaep’s Campers, through TUSD. 

The Coins for Kaep’s Campers Coin Drive began on Jan. 29 and ran through Feb. 12, where canisters were placed in classrooms across the district to collect the spare change brought in by students. According to Camp Taylor Executive Director Kimberlie Gamino, the students did not need much encouragement to give as the students exceeded their goal by $3,400.     

“The children really gave from their hearts. They were so compassionate, and whether it was a quarter or a dollar, this really shows that together we can do great things,” said Gamino. 

The fundraiser allowed students in the district to collect change for prizes based on their efforts so that $5 earned students a “Kaepernick 7 Camp Taylor” bracelet and $30 earned them a Kaepernick Camp Taylor t-shirt. For every $30 student donation, he or she was entered into a drawing where a student from each school was selected to meet Kaepernick with three students being selected from the top earning school, Dennis Earl Elementary.

“There was an incredible vibe when we went around to the different schools to do the drawings,” said Gamino. “There was such energy and the most amazing part of the coin drive was that the students stepped forward and cared enough to contribute so that they could send children with heart disease to camp.”

Some schools even conducted their own events to encourage fundraising for Camp Taylor, such as Turlock High School which shared daily heart awareness facts in morning announcements and set up a heart awareness table at lunch, eventually raising $3,276 school-wide. Pitman High School also contributed generously among classes with Renate Staley’s mathematics class acquiring over $175, earning donuts as a reward, and Katrina Silva’s English glass garnering over $130. PHS senior Janae Marable also made a video to increase awareness of Camp Taylor and the Coins for Kaep’s Campers fundraiser.