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Westhampton Beach's Golden Canes Continues Mission Despite COVID-19

Gabrielle Topping

Members of the Golden Canes. (Photo: Courtesy of the Westhampton Beach Union Free School District)

Westhampton Beach High School sophomores Sydney Anastasia, Sean Bass and Kaitlyn McDermott have found innovative ways to continue raising money for childhood cancer amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

The three students, working under the moniker the Golden Canes, have raised almost $6,000 during the past two years for organizations such as Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation and the Make-A-Wish Foundation. They started their mission as eighth graders.

"It has become more challenging with COVID," Anastasia said. "Every day, we try to think of new ways that we can raise money."

To adhere to social distancing guidelines, the Golden Canes utilized social media to launch their September campaign for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The Golden Canes chose to focus on childhood cancer awareness because Anastasia is a six-year survivor of lymphoma after being diagnosed at age nine.

Anastasia, Bass and McDermott started a tea fundraiser for Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation's Million Mile 2000, where donors could pledge money for the Golden Canes to run, walk or bike. The fundraiser produced $2,300 in pledges. They also organized and held a socially distanced yard sale and lemonade stand, which raised another $650.

The Golden Canes aim to continue their philanthropic efforts this school year through various fundraising campaigns. One fundraiser they will work with is Macy's Believe letter-writing campaign, in which Macy's provides funding to Make-A-Wish for every letter to Santa that they receive. The students are also exploring options for helping the Ronald McDonald House.

"We saw a lot of fundraisers happening and thought, what if we did something like that?" Anastasia said. "Knowing you are helping kids, even if it's something as simple as a lunch, is a good feeling."

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