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HEYWORTH - Doing math problems has helped Heyworth students raise nearly $6,000 for St. Jude Children's Hospital.

Children at Heyworth Elementary and Heyworth Junior High schools participated in St. Jude's "math-a-thon" program. Students received a book with about 200 problems; sponsors pledged either two or three cents per problem solved, or contributed a flat amount.

The students began filling pledge sheets over Thanksgiving weekend and spent the next week collecting the pledges.

Pledge total highest ever

Pat Tomlin, a fifth-grade teacher at Heyworth Elementary, said the $4,109 raised by students in third- through sixth grades represents the highest amount collected since Tomlin began 11 years ago.

Debbie Moore, a mathematics teacher at the junior high school, coordinated the event this year at the junior high for the first time. The seventh- and eighth-graders added another $1,500.

Tomlin expected donations to be down this year with all that Heyworth residents have donated to various disaster relief efforts.

"This community is awesome," Tomlin said. "They've collected for tsunami relief, filled an ambulance with supplies for Hurricane Katrina, and donated for holiday food drives, and we still had a fantastic year."

The top five student fund-raisers - Elijah Bobell, Kindyl Ryburn, Caden Snow, Eric Tomlin and Ryan Tomlin - raised about $1,500 among them. Tomlin estimates Heyworth students have raised more than $30,000 in 11 years.

Incentives help

Students who met a set dollar amount in pledges were eligible for various prizes. For instance, a student who collected at least $35 in pledges received a ticket to Six Flags and a T-shirt. With $75 in pledges, they also collected a Six Flags duffel bag.

"We just had a huge box of prizes delivered today," Tomlin said.

For the first time, Tomlin also handed out lime green wristbands as a kickoff prize. Principal Brian Bradshaw purchased the wristbands, which are produced by St. Jude and have "Give Thanks" embossed on them. They are sold in packages of two that contain one adult and one youth wristband.

"Each home room had a set of five packs," Tomlin explained. "The first five that turned in permission slips to participate got the wristbands."

Tomlin said the wristbands were a hot commodity and a big reason why roughly 100 students ended up collecting pledges. "If you see kids walking around town with these lime green wristbands, that's what they are from," he said.

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