North Collins Elementary School Honored as the 2023 Top Fundraiser
North Collins Elementary School Honored as the 2023 Bald for Bucks Top Fundraiser

There is a permanent home for a Herd of Hope blue buffalo at North Collins Elementary School. From now on, everyday students and teachers alike will pass the buffalo on their way in and out of the building, and they’ll be reminded of all they accomplished together through Bald for Bucks.

With an initial hefty goal of $25,000, North Collins Elementary School ended up raising a total of $38,000 to support groundbreaking research and patient-care programs at Roswell Park.

This photo shows the Herd of Hope buffalo awarded to North Collins Elementary School for being the top Bald for Bucks fundraiser.

Being announced as the top fundraiser

On June 13, 2023, the Bald for Bucks team arrived at North Collins Elementary School for a check presentation, and with a very special delivery. As the 2022-2023 top fundraising team, North Collins was rewarded with a commemorative blue buffalo and officially joined the Herd of Hope.

Reflecting on the school year

Margie Dintino and Ashley Ippolito led the Bald for Bucks campaign at their school, but both teachers give the credit to their students.

“It just blows my mind. I’m super proud of them,” said Margie, a sixth-grade teacher.

Ashley, an art teacher, added, “To take this small school and to raise that kind of money for such an amazing cause, you can’t beat that.”

Their secret to success: giving their students ownership in the process. They say the older kids hype up the younger kids, and the generosity within the community helps them gain momentum.  

“We get the kids involved. Fourth graders make posters. Fifth graders write persuasive letters. We utilize fifth grade ambassadors, and they’re really good at rallying the kids to participate,” explained Margie.

Social media has also been a great method for fundraising, as each participant has a different tie to the cause.

This photo shows two North Collins students who were instrumental in the Bald for Bucks fundraiser.

Making an impact

Margie has been involved with Bald for Bucks for more than ten years, and when asked what keeps her going, her eyes welled up with tears.

“My sister-in-law just passed away from glioblastoma on May 14, so I personally dedicated this season to her. It makes me happy to know that a chunk of our money goes to research that is worthwhile for not just my family but everybody’s family,” said Margie.

The announcement of North Collins being the top fundraiser came as an immunotherapy called SurVaxM was brought to the national spotlight. SurVaxM is a therapeutic vaccine for glioblastoma, a type of aggressive brain tumor. It was developed right here at Roswell Park.

A full-circle moment for Margie, making her dedication to Bald for Bucks even more meaningful.

“My motivation is knowing that the money goes to Roswell Park directly … to know that we can help people in the future who may have not had a chance before.”

This is a photo of Ashley and Tony George, the founder of Bald for Bucks.

The next generation of Bald for Bucks

In the 2023-2024 school year, Ashley will be fully taking over the Bald for Bucks initiative at North Collins. Both Margie and Ashley are eager to see how the program will continue to evolve, with a great foundation and fresh, new ideas.

However, that’s not the only symbolic passing of the torch in this situation.

“I went to Lake Shore, where Bald for Bucks started with Tony George, and that had a special place in my heart. So, when Margie said that she wanted to pass it along this year, I was definitely excited to accept the challenge.”

Bald for Bucks founder Tony George even came out to the check presentation at North Collins, in support of the program and Ashley’s leadership in the Bald for Bucks movement he founded back in 2002.

Advice to other educators

Margie and Ashley encourage teachers at other districts to get involved in Bald for Bucks, as well. They touted the resources available to schools and suggested reaching out to other school leaders who have lead campaigns before.

“Don’t be afraid to just dive into it and do it,” said Ashley. “It is a lot of work, but it’s so fulfilling. Even though we are a small school, coming together as a community, we really can make a difference. I think the kids being able to learn that at such a young age is a really beautiful thing.”

This is a photo of Margie and Ashley at the Bald for Bucks check presentation.