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Tootsie Roll drive raises money for school

LANETT — Like at the beginning of every October, Valley Haven School recently received a monetary donation from the Knights of Columbus thanks to their annual Tootsie Roll drive.

Stationing themselves at the entrances of businesses all over the Greater Valley Area, volunteers from the fraternal men’s organization and Valley Haven handed out chocolate candies in hopes that they would inspire people to make donations toward the education of those with intellectual disabilities.

“Donation or not, we are going to give you a candy,” said Tootsie Roll drive co-chair Bruce Schoonover. “You may not give to us this time, but maybe you’ll remember us next October.”

Schoonover said that the Knights raised over $3,000 through donations this year, adding to the $86,000 raised since he started running the drive 15 years ago.

“People around here know how great Valley Haven is, and they show it by being so generous,” he said. “They know what’s going on when they see our bright yellow aprons.”

Schoonover explained how the Knights set up the locations for the drive months in advance, asking the owners of locations like Kroger, Frisky Whisky and Givorns in West Point if they were okay with them standing out front. The response, he said, is usually a resounding “of course.”

Even being unable to hold the drive outside of the Walmart in Valley this year, a high traffic location in previous years, Schoonover said he was happy with the results.

“I’m just tickled with how it turned out,” he said. “We even still have donations coming in.”

All proceeds of the drive go directly to Valley Haven. After previous drives, the school has used the money to pay for things like busses, computers and even a greenhouse for outdoor instruction.

Schoonover said that the Knights’ next fundraiser is coming up next month. Tickets are on sale now for their Boston Butt sale, with all proceeds being split between Valley Haven and another charity that will be determined soon.