TYLER (KYTX) - Douglas Elementary School students and staff always look forward to participating in the annual Pasta for Pennies contest; a national fundraising program sponsored by Olive Garden to raise funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (LLS).
Each year, schools choose a three-week period when teachers and students fill collection jars in their classrooms with spare change. The top fundraising class at each participating school receives a pasta party from their local Olive Garden restaurant.
For six years, teacher Humberto Arriola's classes dominated the competition at Douglas by collecting the most money and earning the pasta party. During the contest, Mr. Arriola collected change from everyone he came in contact with; including the adult students he taught ballroom dancing to in his free time. Dancing was one of his most cherished hobbies.
"Mr. Arriola danced his way into our hearts, impacting the students he touched by his sweet smile and competitive spirit," Christina Roach, Principal at Douglas Elementary, said. "Mr. Arriola won the Pasta for Pennies challenge for six years by involving his dance partners from his dance class. He loved his kiddos."
Sadly, in March of 2012, Mr. Arriola passed away.
To continue his legacy and love for the Pasta for Pennies contest, Douglas students and staff participated this year with two goals in mind – to continue supporting the LLS with their donations, and to remember the teacher they loved by participating in something that he loved.
During the three-week contest the campus raised $2,058.42. Furthermore, an additional $295.00 was collected from teachers and students who donated one dollar each to wear jeans on Fridays. Students and staff gathered in the courtyard on Friday, November 1 to dance and celebrate the end of a successful campaign and to remember their beloved teacher and friend, Mr. Arriola.
"Mr. Arriola loved dancing," School Counselor Kandi Tamez said. "Friday helped us celebrate his love of dancing and his contribution to the LLS each year."