The festive sound of jingle bells filled the air around the outdoor stadium at Absegami High School in Galloway Township on Dec. 12, but it wasn't because of a visit from the man from the North Pole.
The "ting-a-ling" sound signified the start of the school's fifth annual Jingle Bell Run, as 116 participants with jingle bells tied to their shoelaces stepped off for either a 1.5-mile fun run course or a one-mile walk around the outdoor track.
This year's event, sponsored by the Class of 2014, raised money for the New Jersey chapter of the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
"It really did sound like Santa coming to town with everybody jingling at the same time," said teacher Kim Cramer, one of the two senior class advisers. "Without a doubt, that is everybody's favorite part."
Students and staff members each paid $5 to be a part of the Jingle Bell Run, which took place right after the end of classes for the day.
The event has become one of the most anticipated activities of the season at Absegami, for both students and staff. This year, the fundraising event was for a cause that really hit home for the senior class as both senior class advisers have a personal connection with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Cramer's 14-year-old nephew died in May 2012 after a 10-month struggle with pediatric brain cancer. Before he died, Cramer said, he was fortunate to be granted a "wish" from the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and since then, her family has become very informed about the organization and actively participates in fundraising events throughout the region.
Cramer's fellow senior class adviser, Denise Murray, also has a history with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When Murray was entering her freshman year at Absegami, she received a diagnosis of Burkitt's lymphoma, an aggressive form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma. She too was granted a "wish" from the organization. Now in full remission, Murray is a ninth-grade teacher at Absegami.
The students readily embraced the idea of selecting the Make-A-Wish Foundation as this year's charity recipient, Cramer said.
"We just presented the idea, but they really wanted to make it happen, and they decided as a group to get behind the effort," Cramer said.
"It's nice to see young people giving back. You know, sometimes the community underestimates kids, but they are very charitable," she added.
The final amount raised as a result of the Jingle Bell Run and the Faculty Denim Day fundraiser on Dec. 13 was $750.
Cramer said the senior class appreciates the support of the entire school, from administration, faculty and staff to students. Even if staff members couldn't participate in the event, they donated to the final tally, she said.
This year the Absegami Braves wrestling team had the most participants with 29 students signed up, and won snacks for after their next practice. The indoor track team also had a good turnout, with about 25 students participating, Cramer said.
Prizes were given out for various categories, including Top Male Student, Top Female Student, Top Male Staff and Top Female Staff.
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