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Totes Adorable

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Bear Lake students fill Tammy’s Totes to brighten the lives of those fighting cancer

Bear Lake Elementary students recently helped bring smiles to cancer patients from Florida all the way to Arizona by donating items to the Tammy’s Totes program.

During the countywide Seminole County Public Schools Unity Day in October, students at Bear Lake not only promoted and participated in a R.A.K-It-Up! for Random Acts of Kindness initiative, but they also took part in a Walk-It-Up for Cancer Awareness, completing a school-wide walk around the campus. To promote unity for the cause, students from each grade level wore a different color shirt representing the colors of the rainbow, while bringing in donations to help fill tote bags for the Arizona-based charity Tammy’s Totes, which provides tote bags full of niceties to adults who are undergoing cancer treatments in the hospital.

During the walk, as students strode passed the PE Pavilion, they dropped their donations in specific boxes.

“It was beautiful to see these kids come together and form a line for a great cause,” says Joanne Kramperth, Bear Lake’s assistant principal, who introduced the Tammy’s Totes charity project to Bear Lake students this year.

Joanne learned about Tammy’s Totes from her sister-in-law Sue, who lives in Arizona. Sue is a three-time cancer survivor and close friend of young mother Tammy Frey, who passed away in 2014 after an 18-month battle with a rare form of brain cancer. With a mission to bring smiles and offer support to adults undergoing cancer treatment, Sue and Tammy’s mom began filling small tote bags with personal and recreational items and delivered the bags to adult oncology patients to help brighten their day.

Thanks to Joanne, cancer patients in both Arizona and Florida will receive the special gift of Tammy’s Totes. Students from every grade level donated enough gift-bag sized items to fill eight large boxes. Although Joanne originally planned to bring the items to her sister in Arizona, the overwhelming amount of donations was much too large. Joanne packed three suitcases full and will donate the rest to a local hospital or hospice center.

“The kids still ask me about Tammy’s Totes,” says Joanne. “Doing this gave them a perspective of something bigger than themselves and something bigger than the school. Just by donating a tiny piece, the students are creating a tremendous force of good. They have made a huge difference.”

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