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posted: 1/12/2010 12:01 AM

Emmons students have charitable spirit

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  • Emmons School students have a history of charitable giving. Here, kids collected items for a school in Kenya a few years ago.

    Emmons School students have a history of charitable giving. Here, kids collected items for a school in Kenya a few years ago.
    Paul Valade | Staff Photographer

By Vincent Pierri

It's a little school with a big heart.

In recent weeks, students from tiny Emmons School in Antioch have raised enough money to send a World War II veteran to Washington, D.C., and have worked to promote a fundraiser for a 10-year-old boy with cancer.

Emmons Superintendent Robert Machak said the charitable attitude of the nearly 350 students and staff is part of the culture at the school.

"Students and staff have a long history of reaching out to the community," he said. "They have an awareness of the needs outside of the school's walls."

In past years, the students have raised money for an orphanage in Tanzania, sent school supplies to kids in Kenya, collected for Toys for Tots, and sent care packages to troops and goodies to patients at the North Chicago Veteran's Affairs Medical Center.

The most recent project involved fifth-grade teacher Carey Frank's class, which collected $500 and donated it to the Honor Flight Network. The organization flies veterans to Washington, D.C., at no charge to see war memorials. The donation covers the cost of one soldier.

The project had an educational component, too, Frank said.

"By talking with veterans and hearing their experiences, the kids are getting a frame of reference and understanding the impact war has on a society."

Additionally, 8th-grader Andy Romani is leading an effort to raise awareness for Millburn West student Danny Gardner, a 10-year-old diagnosed with leukemia last October.

Danny is the son of Romani's football coach, Ken Garnder, on the Lake Villa Timberwolves.

"My coach is such a great guy and gives so much to the community, I wanted to help in any way I can," Romani said.

Romani worked to set the family up with a CaringBridge Web site. The site enables families dealing with serious illnesses to stay connected with friends and to give updates on conditions.

Romani also is helping to publicize a Jan. 23 fundraiser. The "Do it for Danny" event will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. at Serbian Brothers Help, 19697 W. Grand Avenue in Lindenhurst. For details, email

The benevolent spirit continues to impress Machak.

"It's not just kids collecting money," he said. "So many of them and their parents also give time, which is just as important."