Creativity, compassion and commitment. Those are the words to describe Marge Erickson, who has served as coordinator for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Pennies for Patients campaign at the Sibley East Elementary, Arlington campus, for more than 10 years.
Erickson was recently recognized with the 2006-2007 Mandy Moore Special Achievement Award for the outstanding impact she has made on the Pennies for Patients program.
“I was so surprised it brought tears to my eyes,” Erickson commented. She was chosen for the award in a three state area where there are more than 800 schools involved in the collection.
The coordinator of the program since its inception, Erickson has helped the Sibley East – Arlington Elementary raise more than $23,000.
Co-workers credit Erickson for the school’s success in the collection.
“Margie Erickson makes a difference,” Mari Lu Martens, Sibley East Elementary Principal, said. “She makes working at Sibley East Schools fun for staff and students. She only does top-notch work and is always reliable. She is truly amazing and is deserving of recognition every day!”
“Over the past years, Margie’s enthusiasm and dedication to the Pennies for Patients has spread to staff and students alike,” co-worker Regi Ploeger commented. “With her leadership and organization, we have been able to not only meet our goals, but to exceed them. She is an inspiration to all of us.”
During the 2006-07 Pennies for Patients campaign, Erickson challenged staff members to come up with a reward promise for students if the school reached its goal. “If the goal is met, each teacher had a plan, from getting their head shaved, jumping into the pool dressed, or doing head stands. Everyone enjoyed themselves,” according to co-worker Michelle Dahn.
Other reward promises included eating ice cream with no hands or spoon, dying hair, extra recess, and “music from the rooftop.”
“No one can psych up a student body like Margie and make them convince people to open their hearts and pocket books for Pennies for Patients,” co-worker Sharon Marshall said. “Every campaign that she has been in charge of has become a personal undertaking for her. She has taken great pride in the results each year but put the credit totally back in the hands of each student.”
Erickson has had a variety of jobs at the school. First she served as a special education and elementary paraprofessional. Then about 10 years ago, she began working as the food service clerical staff. With the clerical position also came the position of elementary student council advisor.
She will no longer be serving as coordinator of the program because she is now serving as a secretary in the school office. The student council advisor is now Larry Gieseke, who will be coordinating the program this year. This year Sibley East Elementary Schools in Gaylord and Arlington will hold the collection January 28 – February 16.
Although Erickson has not had any family suffer from the disease, Erickson was instrumental is helping Sibley East student Whitney Osborne serve as an Honored Hero for the program.
“It’s a real worthy cause and all of the proceeds are used for research,” Erickson explained. “Every amount given helps.”
As for the ideas to raise money, Erickson credits the student council members and the staff. Both groups like to be competitive, she said.