On May 17th, the fifth graders graduated from Law Enforcement Against Drugs and Violence (L.E.A.D.) and took part in a fundraiser called “Kids Helping Kids,” which was started by their instructor, Harding Township Officer Louis Pirrello Jr.
The L.E.A.D. program is a national non-profit organization dedicated to community drug and violence prevention.
“I’m incredibly proud of my fifth graders for graduating from L.E.A.D., and I look forward to seeing how they continue to grow from everything they learned,” Pirrello Jr. said. “Their enthusiasm toward the program that I care so deeply for made it even more enjoyable to teach, and they did an excellent job during the fundraiser, surpassing our goal of money raised.”
Since the inception of “Kids Helping Kids,” a fundraising math-a-thon sponsored by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, in 2017, the fifth-grade classes at Harding Township School have raised more than $17,000 in total.
“Starting ‘Kids Helping Kids’ has been an honor, and I’m pleased that all of my fifth graders have taken part in it as they’ve contributed toward making a difference in the lives of children that are less fortunate than them,” Pirrello Jr. said. “Our goal this year was to raise $1,500. I’m happy to say that my students crushed it, exceeding that goal by over $1,100, and we look forward to seeing how the total amount raised will benefit those at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.”
Officer Pirrello Jr. will officially retire on July 1, but he hopes that the legacy he established at the Harding Township Police Department and the L.E.A.D. program in Harding Township schools will live on for many years. “So far, we’ve made outstanding headway in ‘Kids Helping Kids,” and it just needs to keep going as we have the ability to make a phenomenal impact on St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital,” he said.
By providing services “on the street” and “in the classroom,” L.E.A.D. brings law enforcement and communities closer together. L.E.A.D. is the only anti-drug, anti-violence curriculum for K-12 students in the United States that has been proven to be effective. The L.E.A.D. curriculum is delivered over a 10-week period to teach youth how to make sound decisions without the use of drugs or violence.
Pirrello Jr. has received national awards for his work instructing and training officers for L.E.A.D., including “L.E.A.D. Instructor of the Month” and “L.E.A.D. Instructor of the Year.” He expresses gratitude to Chief Erik Heller, Lieutenant Michael Gromek, and the Harding Township PBA Local #340 for their contributions to L.E.A.D.
“The success we’ve had with the program in Harding Township wouldn’t be possible without them,” Pirrello Jr. said. “It’s heartwarming knowing that they believe in the power of L.E.A.D. as much as I do, and once I’m retired, I know the program will continue to take off with their guidance.”
For more information on L.E.A.D., please visit www.leadrugs.org