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Preschoolers Learn Lessons in Giving

Students at Lissie's Playschool in Katonah presented a check for $2,546.93 to the pediatric unit at Northern Westchester Hospital from their year-long fundraising efforts.

The pediatric wing at Northern Westchester Hospital just got $2,546.93 richer, thanks to the efforts of a group of 73 tots from

Along with their families, they collected pennies all year-long in jars decorated to reflect their designated charity—this year, the place where sick children go to get better, according to the school's assistant director, Sue Schoenberg.

They understood the meaning of their gift on Wednesday when Dr. Pete Richel, Nurse Chris Odell and Gabby Greenwald, vice president of the hospital's foundation, arrived to accept the school's donation. After each class—the twos, threes and fours—performed a song for their guests, Richel, known locally as "Dr. Pete, the singing pediatrician," asked if the children knew what the pediatric unit of the hospital was.

Several youngsters shouted answers and all were on the right track.

Richel thanked them for their gift and discussed ways to stay healthy such as eating right, getting along with their siblings and exercising. He presented each family in the class with a copy of his CD, Dr. Pete's Office.

Heather Brennan said the project was meaningful for her two children at the school. "My daughter Jane is five and she was very intent on collecting pennies for the hospital," said Brennan, a class parent who helped with the fundraiser. "She even wanted to donate her birthday money—four out of five dollars—to the hospital."

Anne Harris, director of the school, said the project accomplishes two goals.

"It's part of our curriculum to teach children how to be good stewards of the community and how to help others," said Anne Harris, director of the school. "It also gets parents involved, which is a criteria for maintaining our NAEYC accreditation (an early childhood program accrediting organization).

Past recipients of the school's coin collecting include the and the

Class parents helped their children collect coins plus they organized a separate wine-tasting fundraiser at the Lake Katonah Club. Tara Boezi, mother of a son in the twos program, said she got involved because it helped her connect with her child and the school.

"At this age, they don't tell you much," she said. "So helping with this project and other activities gave me a window into his day and helped me get to know his friends."

The presentation ended with a finale performance from all three classes, with hospital officials, students and teachers singing about being part of a helping community.

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