Mantua – American author Margaret Mead said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Crestwood Intermediate students Emmy Grebb, Aspen Baynes and Lilly Kuchenbecker were inspired to make a positive change in their community. They decided to become Change Bandits — collecting pocket change from fellow students and staff during their lunch periods, in hopes of helping change the fate of other kids treated at Akron Children’s Hospital.

It all began with Emmy’s desire to help a family friend named Codey, a former patient at Akron Children’s Hospital, who successfully beat cancer last year. When Emmy heard the Change Bandit ad on the radio on her way to school one morning, she told her mom she wanted to help the place that helps kids like Codey heal. When she mentioned it to her friends, they were happy to help out. The cause was especially important to Aspen and her family as well, since her cousin had successfully battled childhood cancer, too.

The trio had hoped to collect $50 in small change from fellow students and staff. By the end of the week, however, they were delighted to have gathered over $250 — more than five times what they had anticipated. Those generous donations will be combined with others to buy child-size medical equipment and to fund patient care, community outreach and research at Akron Children’s Hospital.

Serving as a Change Bandit gives everyone, from third graders to corporate employees, the opportunity to raise money for the hospital to impact the children it serves. “The Change Bandit campaign is unique because it gives people a way to participate for their own reasons,” said Nicci Avalon, Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals program manager at Akron Children’s Hospital. “Those volunteering to be Change Bandits are helping the hospital keep its promise to never turn a sick child away.”

Each year, the Change Bandit program precedes a special radiothon that provides patients and their families the opportunity to share their stories on-air, while collecting pledges for Akron Children’s Hospital from radio listeners. Last year, Change Bandits raised $160,000, and since the program began in 2000, Change Bandits have raised more than $2.3 million for Akron Children’s Hospital. For more information on the Change Bandit program, visit akronchildrens.org or call the Akron Children’s Hospital Foundation at 330-543-4335.