JACKSON TWP. During this year’s annual Jackson School for the Arts’ (JSA) All District Arts Extravaganza, a group of JSA Leaders spearheaded a collection for Akron Children’s Hospital (ACH). The student leaders were asking attendees of the annual event to bring along donations of art supplies or stuffed animals for the collection drive.

By 6:30 p.m., there were enough items to fill two giant boxes and more donations were coming in as students tried to find room to store all of the items.

There were three of the JSA students in particular that led the drive and all had their own experiences with staying at ACH while battling cancer. Those three students, senior Mandi Jodon, junior Emma Maier and sophomore Mackenzie Roach came up with the idea for the drive because they all experienced stays at ACH and knew firsthand what the donations mean to the kids.

“Myself and two other JSA Leaders have had cancer and we know how fortunate we are to be in this program,” said Mandi. “We really wanted to give back to ACH for working to save so many kids’ lives like they did our lives.”

Mandi was diagnosed with papillary thyroid carcinoma when she was in eighth grade. She is now a senior at Jackson High School and has been cancer free since July 18.

“I felt trapped and didn’t have anything to do when I had to stay after my surgery. You’re just stuck in bed with nothing to do. ACH would send around different carts throughout the day with different items such as blankets, crafts or art supplies. That just really helped out a lot to have those items come around,” Mandi said.

The first 1,000 people making a donation received a limited edition JSA Extravaganza pin. Mandi was busy organizing the collection boxes while the other two students were performing on stage. She was also preparing for her own performance later that evening.

She said all three students were happy that JSA Program Director Susan Gardener told them they could do the collection.

“Mrs. Gardener told us we were in charge of the drive and to make it our own. ACH is an incredible hospital with incredible doctors. We are so glad to have a way to give back,” Mandi said.