SALEM Buckeye Elementary kids work to raise money for new flagpole

The youngsters want a new staff from which to fly Old Glory.
SALEM -- Pupils at Buckeye Elementary are digging deep into their pockets and raiding piggy banks, all for a worthy cause.
The youngsters have a fund drive under way to raise money for a new flagpole for their school and a new base on which to affix the staff. The base will bear a plaque commemorating the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Spare change: Starting in December and continuing through May, the youngsters are setting aside the 11th day of each month, or the closest school day to that date, to bring in spare change.
On Dec. 11, the children raised $248.50.
Friday marked their second fund-raising effort. The amount donated wasn't readily available.
If the pupils' fund-raising doesn't produce enough to pay for the new flagpole, anonymous donors have said they're willing to pay the difference, said Patti L'Italien, a Buckeye kindergarten teacher who's organizing the effort.
The idea for Operation Red, White and Blue, as the project is called, originated during a Veteran's Day ceremony at the school in November, L'Italien said.
School officials noticed that the Buckeye flagpole was worn and crooked and decided a new fixture was needed.
"The flagpole isn't much to look at," L'Italien said. "It's seen better days."
Rather than simply replace it, however, school officials decided to get pupils involved, and to do something to commemorate Sept. 11, L'Italien said.
Following news: The youngsters have been following news regarding Sept. 11 and the war on terrorism. Some of them have relatives participating in the campaign.
"They're very acutely aware of the events of the 11th," L'Italien said.
She said pupils at Buckeye, which has grades kindergarten through third, are enthusiastic about the effort.
Not only do they bring in donations, the youngsters sort and count the coins.
A wall display at the school tracks the amount raised.
If all goes as planned, the new flagpole and base will be installed over the summer.
Buckeye probably will have a one-year anniversary ceremony Sept. 11 to remember the tragic attack and dedicate the flagpole, L'Italien said.

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