In addition to getting acclimated to high school and playing varsity volleyball, two local Scholars’ Academy students, Layla Tawil and Olivia DiGennaro, are raising money this October to bring awareness to pediatric cancer. Their charity, “Say ‘BOO’ To Pediatric Cancer,” provides hospital approved Halloween goodie bags to patients and patients’ siblings alike, who are facing the immense stress and challenges that pediatric cancer places on a family. Layla and Olivia have been working directly with the Cohen’s Children’s Pediatric Oncology Center.
“Say BOO” was started in Chatham, NJ five years ago by Olivia’s cousins, Ali and Sofia Dorrego, after their 15-year-old cousin, Kaitlyn Bernhardt (Bergen Beach), lost her battle with Osteosarcoma. Last year, the charity had grown so much in Chatham that Ali formed an additional partnership with former Seton Hall basketball player, Jerry Walker, to help support his charity for underserved children in Jersey City.
With Olivia’s cousins both off to college, she was excited to bring the charity to the peninsula, with the help of her friend, knowing that Rockaway residents rally around good local causes. Her hope is to grow the charity through high school and pass it on to her brother, Luca, who is currently in sixth grade at Scholars’. Her additional hope is that her hometown out-raises Chatham!
The charity is a pretty straight forward endeavor. Donors purchase “BOO” bags (goodie bags) to send to the hospital. The suggested minimum donation for each bag is $10, but donors can send more if they’d like. The bags are funded by Layla’s and Olivia’s parents, so 100% of donations will be passed along to the charity. This week, Olivia and Layla are scheduled to deliver over 100 “BOO” bags to Cohen’s!
The money raised will be spread across three initiatives:
- A gold coin book vending machine, donated and dedicated in Kaitlyn’s name to Cohen’s Children’s Medical Center, by Grandma’s Love Inc. Each child going in for his/her first round of chemotherapy receives a gold coin and can pick a book from the vending machine that they take home with them. The books need to be replenished on a monthly basis.
- A general donation to Cohen’s to be used as they see fit.
- The “Be Kind For Kaitlyn Foundation” started by the Bernhardt family in memory of Kaitlyn.
Donating is easy, and donations are being accepted through the first week of November. Money can be sent via Venmo to: @daniella-vanGraas-Tawil; via Zelle to: email@example.com; or if you would like to send a check or cash, please email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org