Stepney student raises money for cancer research

Stepney Elementary School fifth grader Luke Costantini is collecting bottles and cans to recycle and raise money for cancer research. Contributed

Luke Costantini is on a mission. After watching his beloved grandfather pass away
from stomach cancer in May, the 10-year-old Stepney Elementary School fifth grader was inspired.

“Luke had been learning about recyling and the impact it has on our environment
at school,” his mother, Lisa, said. “One day, he put two and two together, and had an inspiration.”

“I came home from school and said to my mom, ‘we need to start recycling to save
the earth. I’d like to collect all the bottles I can to return to the store. We can donate all the money we make to cancer research in honor of my Nono,’” Luke recalled.

Luke looks back fondly on his close relationship with his grandfather, who died at age 70.

“My Nono was really special,” he said with a smile. “I spent a lot of time with him. I used to have sleepovers at his house all the time on the weekends. We would go to church and then go out to eat pancakes at Chips.”

Once Luke set the wheels in motion, it didn’t take long for the bottles and cans to
start piling up, and for the whole family to get on board with his fundraiser. Brian,
Luke’s stepfather, spent hours taking the first bags of bottles to be recycled. His
mother, Lisa, recruited members of the community to join Luke’s crusade via

Luke estimates the Costantini household collected well over 2,000 bottles and cans, to raise several hundred dollars so far. But that isn’t enough for Luke. His
drive and determination to help the earth and help find a cure for cancer continues
to grow, especially after his father, Mark, told him he would match whatever Luke
ultimately raises.

The fifth grader recently spoke at a meeting of the Stepney Flight Crew, a group of 60 fourth and fifth graders who meet to do community service projects once a
month. The students at Stepney were excited to help take on Luke’s cause.

“My family and I are going to donate the money to St. Jude’s,” Luke said of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “My grandfather always loved St. Jude’s and wanted to donate to them.”

In fact, Luke is so excited about his efforts, he wants to make the donation in person.

“I’ve been doing extra chores to earn money to put aside, so we can go to Tennessee and give the check to the hospital ourselves,” he said.

After collecting so many bottles and cans, Luke is expressed confidence that his grandfather would be proud of him.

“He was Italian, you know…so I think if he could see what I was doing, his expression would be a big ‘Oh, My God! Look what you’re doing! You’re such a good boy!’” Luke said.

Those who are interested in helping Luke with his mission, can leave their bottles and cans, neatly wrapped in garbage bags, on the side of the garage door at the Costantini’s home at 74 Hillside Lane; return their bottles and cans and send the receipt to Luke’s
family; or return their bottles and cans and send the receipt to either Jennifer Heitzke or Wendy Cushing c/o Stepney Elementary School Flight Crew, 180 Old Newtown Road, Monroe, CT. 06468.

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