Kids Nationwide Collect Spare Change to Save Lives

Students Kick-off Annual Pasta for Pennies Fundraising to Benefit The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society with Goal of Surpassing Record-breaking Donation in 2012


Students across the country have begun collecting spare change to support the 19th-Annual Pasta for Pennies program presented by Olive Garden and benefiting The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s (LLS) School & Youth campaign.  During last year’s Pasta for Pennies, students donated a record $10.7 million.  That brings the total amount collected since the program’s inception in 1994 to more than $70 million, helping fund blood cancer research and providing much needed services and support to leukemia, lymphoma and myeloma patients and their families.

During a three-week period, students in first through 12th grade at nearly 8,000 schools will participate in Pasta for Pennies by donating spare change they collect in special boxes. The top fundraising class at each participating school receives a pasta party from their local Olive Garden restaurant.

“Pasta for Pennies provides a meaningful way for kids to help their peers who are battling cancer,” said John Walter, president and CEO of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. “Thanks to research, nearly 90 percent of children with leukemia survive today, but one out of ten children still pass away from this blood cancer. Through the School & Youth programs, students learn that they can really make a difference.”

To help kick off Pasta for Pennies, local Olive Garden restaurants host lunches for representatives from participating schools. Olive Garden also provides marketing support and materials for 44 participating LLS chapters.

“The students, parents and teachers who are committed to Pasta for Pennies continue to be an inspiration to all of us,” said Dave George, president of Olive Garden. “Pasta for Pennies has a profound impact on so many of our friends and neighbors who need support from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.”

The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society is the world’s largest voluntary health agency dedicated to blood cancer.  The LLS mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and myeloma, and improve the quality of life for patients and their families. LLS funds lifesaving blood cancer research around the world and provides free information and support services.  Founded in 1949 and headquartered in White Plains, NY, LLS has chapters throughout the United States and Canada.  To learn more, visit www.LLS.org or contact the Information Resource Center at (800) 955-4572, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET.

Olive Garden is the leading restaurant in the Italian dining segment with more than 800 restaurants, more than 90,000 employees and more than $3.5 billion in annual sales. Olive Garden is a division of Darden Restaurants, Inc. (NYSE:DRI), the world’s largest full-service restaurant operating company. In 2013, Darden was named to the FORTUNE “100 Best Companies to Work For” list for the third year in a row and is the only full-service restaurant company to ever appear on the list. Olive Garden is committed to making a difference in the lives of others in the local community. As part of this commitment, all Olive Garden restaurants participate in the Darden Harvest program, which has donated more than 60 million pounds of food to local community food banks across the country. For more information, visit www.olivegarden.com.

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