Pupils step up to raise funds for toddler’s operation

first_imgThat’s where Catherine Rojas’ fourth- and fifth-grade combination class comes in. The Eckstrand Elementary School students have been recycling since October to help raise $50,000 for the operation that can give Hayley her smile. So far, they have raised more than $1,000. “That’s a lot of bottles and cans,” Rojas said. It’s also a labor of love. Rojas was looking for a project that could teach her students about community service, something that would show them one person can make a difference. SAN DIMAS – For five months, the pupils of Room 26 have been collecting every bottle and can they can find. All to see Hayley smile. Two-year-old Hayley Larryne Brang was born with a rare form of facial paralysis known as Moebius syndrome. The Claremont girl can’t smile or frown. But there is hope in a muscle and nerve transplant that can bring Hayley’s face to life. When they heard about Hayley from the day care she attends, the class jumped at the chance. They wrote letters to the city asking for help. And they enlisted the entire school, going from class to class every Friday to collect the bottles and cans that Hayley’s parents pick up each week. “It just started rolling,” Rojas said. “It’s awesome.” David Jencks certainly thinks so. The city street sweeper joined the recycling effort after he got letters from the class. “When you read these letters, letters from the little kids, it is so humbling,” he said. He figures he and his co-workers have collected about 15 trash bags full of bottles and cans so far. “All of us guys at facilities have really taken this to heart,” he said. “We want to help out as much as we can.” Hayley’s mother, Heather Brang, says Rojas’ students have been wonderful. “I am speechless for what they’ve done for my daughter,” she said. “It’s overwhelming. I’m overjoyed.” Hayley will need two operations, one for each side of her face. While insurance companies generally consider the operation cosmetic surgery, Brang says Hayley’s Canadian surgeon believes insurance will pay part of the cost because the paralysis affects her ability to chew. “She has difficulty eating and that’s not plastic surgery,” she said. But there will be two trips to Canada, and Brang says their insurance deductible is high. So they have set the goal of $50,000 to cover expenses for when Hayley turns 5, and qualifies for the surgery. Rojas’ students know that’s a mountain of recycling, but they say time is on their side. And they’re not giving up. “Helping one person can change everything,” said Michelle Bryant, 10. “So it’s kind of cool. You have a little thing and it gets bigger and bigger and it turns out great. It helps a little girl.” [email protected] (909) 483-9355 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img

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