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Preschoolers on a mission
Children raise $1,000 for Children's Hospital

May 1, 2007
By Jessica Cuffman

Armed with a bell he found in his family's Christmas decorations and motivated by a desire to be "like the guy at Wal-Mart," 4-year-old Anthony Benton recently led his classmates at Ohio University's Child Development Center in raising $1,000 for Columbus Children's Hospital.

Child Development Center students Julia Weber and Anthony Benton raise money at the College Gate to benefit Columbus Children's Hospital. Photo courtesy of Anthony and Debra Benton.The son of university administrators Tony and Debra Benton also had a personal stake in his charity of choice. "I want to give the money to Children's Hospital," he told his teachers when he arrived at school one December morning. "I was there when I was a baby. The Children's Hospital people took care of me."

Anthony and classmate Julia Weber, with guidance from their teachers and parents, raised the money in less than three months. And last week, they presented three checks totaling $1,000 to Matt Levering, assistant director of fundraising at Children's Hospital and an Ohio University alumnus.

"You're going to help a lot of other kids," Levering told the children. He shared pictures of patients who had been treated at Children's and explained how the donation would help more young patients receive stitches if they fell or get medicine if they had a cold.

Levering said such a donation coming from children was very unusual. "I'm a kid at heart, so it was a great opportunity to come down here and thank them," he said.

Anthony, the sole survivor of triplets, was born 24 weeks premature at Ohio State University Medical Center and spent five and a half months at Children's Hospital with various illnesses. At birth, he weighed 1 pound, 6 ounces, and eventually was sent home with oxygen and a feeding tube, which he used for three years.

Photo by Rick Fatica"He's really come a long way, and no one would know any different," Debra Benton said. In Julia, Anthony found a fellow philanthropist. "I was there two times," she told her teachers of her experience at Children's. "I had to get my surgery. I had tonsils and adenoids." 

She and Anthony told their classmates about the idea in December, and with great enthusiasm from everyone, they decided to make signs and set up tables before and after school to collect donations from parents. Family friends stopped especially to help out. Some children collected at their parents' workplaces, and others stationed themselves at College Gate in the rain.

The teachers encourage the children's ideas, but their projects usually take place within the center, said Master Teacher Kristen Mazzeo. This was without a doubt the children's largest and most far-reaching project, she said.

"I'm giving money to the babies," Anthony told Outlook, "the babies at Children's Hospital."

Jessica Cuffman is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.


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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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