DPS, community fundraisers assist orphaned children

Miracle Minute
Photo by Sherri Kolade
Fordson High School Key Club Vice President and senior Husain Bazzi (left) and Key Club member Ali Elefnian (second from left) count donated money from students who collected it during a lunch period fundraiser Feb. 7 at FHS.

Times-Herald Newspapers

DEARBORN — Three Dearborn Public School students lost their mother, Nicole Cannizzaro, 39, to cervical cancer Dec. 18.

Weeks later, their father, Ray Cannizzaro, 42, died from a pulmonary embolism Jan 20.

Since their deaths, communities throughout the school district have opened up their hearts and wallets to the children, Chastity, 8, Drako, 9, and Michael, 16.

Chastity and Drako attend Snow Elementary School and their older brother attends Edsel Ford High School.

The children’s grandmother, Dearborn resident Shirley Sironen, is raising them. Sironen did not return calls by press time.

During a Fordson High School lunch fundraiser Thursday called “Miracle Minute,” hundreds of students donated money to financially assist the children.

Since Feb. 5, the students had about one minute during three daily lunch periods to donate as much money as possible. Hundreds of students donated about $400 – but the money kept pouring in.

On Feb. 7, students donated $75 during the first lunch period. Each lunch period lasts for 30 minutes.

During a second lunch period on Feb. 7, 10 student volunteers raced through the lunch room with buckets, Christmas stockings and other items to collect donations.

But before the collection, Snow PTA Vice President Alysia Schueler made a plea to the students.

“I’m here because I am a Snow parent and Fordson High School has stepped up,” Schueler said of the fundraiser. “If you have change, please step up. They have no parents.”

FHS Key Club Vice President and senior Husain Bazzi also encouraged the students to donate.

“(The first) lunch donated $75,” Bazzi said, playfully baiting the students. “Let’s see if you can match or exceed that.”

Bazzi said donating is a no-brainer.

“It is such a big deal that we support these kids,” Bazzi said. “It is so heartbreaking, especially after the holidays. It is important to do what we can.”

Schueler said the first fundraiser happened before Nicole Cannizzaro died.

“It started in December when the mom was sick,” Schueler said. “I put the message on Facebook that she is dying of cervical cancer, and we got $1,000.”

More people donated when the story was picked up by local media.

“When the dad became sick we knew we had to do something again,” Schueler said.

After Ray Cannizzaro died, Schueler said she and others went out to local media groups and informed them about the children’s predicament.

“A lot of school groups reached out and started ‘Miracle Minute,’” she said.

FHS sophomore Mariam Sareini, who volunteered during the fundraiser, said she wanted to help any way she could.

“It didn’t matter if I knew them or not,” Sareini said. “If I lost my parents how would I feel? I would want somebody to help me.”

Recent community-wide fundraising events also drew an outpouring of public support. Other schools in the district also hosted fundraising events.

FHS students donated $690.73 during the three-day fundraiser.

The Ford Community & Performing Arts Center will host a spaghetti dinner fundraiser from 4 to 8 p.m. March 6.

Spaghetti plates are $10 for adults and $5 for children. DPS, the city of Dearborn, Dearborn Firefighters’ Burn Drive and other service groups are organizing the dinner.

Donations can also be made to Snow Elementary School, c/o Alysia Schueler PTA, 2000 Culver St., Dearborn, MI, 48124.

For questions, contact Schueler at 313-408-1264, or via email at alysiarelay@yahoo.com.

(Sherri Kolade can be reached at skolade@bewickpublications.com.)