FOLSOM, New Jersey (WPVI) -- 5 years ago, computer science teacher Kristin Santilli brought the popular St. Baldrick's Foundation fundraiser to Folsom School. She had previously participated at the church of a student who inspired her to shave her head in solidarity with children who are battling cancer.
Over the years, the school of less than 400 people has grown the event's scope and impact in the Folsom/Hammonton area.
"Last year raised about $22,741," she said. "This year we have already broken that with the online donations alone and probably are going to hit about 30,000 this year."
Santilli was right. The total raised this year clocked in at $31,159 and donations are still being collected. Monetary donations are made to the St. Baldrick's Foundation while hair shavings are donated to Matter of Trust, which creates mats to clean oceans. Two participants even donated their hair to the nonprofit, Children With Hair Loss.
Santilli and several students took the hot seat on stage to have their hair buzzed for charity. Kicking off the event was 1st-grade student Benjamin Grasso from Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center, who got to personally shave the first few locks off of Santilli.
In August 2022, Benjamin was diagnosed with AML, or acute myeloid leukemia. His mother, father, and brother fought hard alongside him. And just a few weeks ago, Benjamin rang the bell to celebrate the completion of treatments.
"What got us through this challenging time were the foundations and families reaching out to us," said his mother, Dana Grasso. "And just knowing that when you're in this situation, that you're not alone."
Students who cut their hair today wanted the Grasso family and others to be sure of that fact.
"I don't want other kids to feel insecure about themselves," said 4th-grade student Gemma Scheer, who personally raised more than $1,200. "So, I decided that I will cut off my hair to go make wigs for them."
To learn more about St. Baldrick's Foundation, visit their website. Click here to learn more about Folsom School's 2023 campaign or to make a donation.
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