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Fairfax High School DECA Students Present “Smashing Walnuts” Project to School Board

Students Raised Over $4400 for Mid-Atlantic Make-A-Wish

Fairfax High School juniors and DECA members Anya Skare and Roheena Hasanzade

Photo of FHS DECA Students Roheena Hasanzade (left) and Anya Skare

FHS DECA Students Roheena Hasanzade (left) and Anya Skare

met Ellyn Miller in October of 2018 at CureFest for Childhood Cancer, an annual national event to bring together groups working to end childhood cancer. Once Ms. Miller told the girls the story of her daughter, Gabriella, they wanted to do more to help.

Gabriella was diagnosed with a walnut-sized brain tumor when she was nine years old. Before her death in 2013, Gabriella and her family created “Smashing Walnuts”, a non-profit group dedicated to raise money and awareness of brain cancer in children. Anya and Roheena were inspired by Gabriella and her family’s commitment to giving back. The two DECA students took that inspiration back to FHS and began a project of their own. The project raised over $4400 for charity, said the students in their presentation to the City of Fairfax School Board on Monday, January 7.

“Our goals were to teach kids to get involved with their community and to run a ‘Letters to Santa’ campaign,” said Skare. The two students teamed with Macy’s department store which donated $1 to the Mid-Atlantic Make-A-Wish Foundation for every letter to Santa. Make-A-Wish enriches the lives of children with critical illnesses. The students created events within their DECA chapter, Fairfax High School

Photo of two FHS students writing letters to Santa

FHS students writing letters to Santa

and throughout the community.

“We were so happy to see that the students took time out of their [day] to get involved and see what they can do to help,” said Roheena. The letters continued to come and by the end of the project, the students raised over $4400 for the Mid-Atlantic Make-A-Wish Foundation. In addition, they received praise through social media from Macys who tweeted “Thank you to the students at Fairfax High School for helping support such a great cause”.

The students thanked sponsors such as Bagel Buddies and Weichert Realtors who supported the students with resources and allowing them to set up in their store. In the end, Anya and Roheena were happy to help the Miller family.

“This was an amazing story and an amazing project,” said City of Fairfax School Board Chairman Carolyn Pitches. “We are continually astounded at the work of our Fairfax High School students and we are so proud of Anya and Roheena for their work. A special thank you to their DECA advisor Ms. Kay Walters for her ongoing support and leadership of the program.”

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