Bittersweet Sale Helps Students Remember The Friend They Lost Delran Middle Schoolers Are Raising Money For A Memorial To A Classmate Killed In An Accident In October.

Posted: February 21, 1993

DELRAN — Sweets in memory of a sweet girl.

The friends of Melinda Stone were selling them Wednesday at Delran Middle School just one day after what would have been her 13th birthday. They were hoping to raise enough money to commemorate the name of the bubbly 12-year- old, whose life was tragically ended last fall on Route 130 South.

Late in the afternoon on Oct. 29, Melinda tried to cross the busy road near the entrance of Holy Cross High School. In what Delran police have ruled an accident, she was killed after running in front of a car.

Her numerous friends at the school have yet to completely shake the shock.

The next school day after the accident, they skipped classes to express their pain in group discussions run by middle school nurse Joan Lewis and a high school counselor. That's where the idea of a fund-raising event, which became Wednesday's candy sale, came up.

Then they collected signatures on a petition demanding that a pedestrian overpass be constructed over the crosswalk where Melinda was killed. They presented the petitions to the Township Council on a night when they could have been watching television or playing games.

When the council voted to request a traffic study by the Department of Transportation, they were there again, pleading with the council for action, hugging Melinda's sorrowful mother, Rose Stone, afterward.

Melinda's kindness and good humor have remained positive forces in their lives. They didn't express any angry sentiments Wednesday, not even toward the driver of the car that struck their friend.

Colleen Maher, 13, called it an accident at "a very dangerous crossing."

It was just that the candy sale, held in the school cafeteria during periods five, six and seven, helped rekindled her spirit even more.

"It's just like she was here," 13-year-old Nicole Kowalewski said. ''Sometimes you can close your eyes and she's right here talking to you."

Nicole had opened the one-day sale by announcing to youngsters over an intercom, "Our goal is $75, so please spend your money."

At a table set up between a fruit-juice machine and a slush machine, she and others handled a steady stream of sweet-toothed schoolmates, who paid 25 cents apiece for fruit snacks and Tootsie pops, 10 cents apiece for Twizzlers and five cents each for Sweet Tarts.

Toward the end of the lunch period, they had collected $38.14, which was held in a tightly guarded cigar box.

They talked of purchasing a plaque "so that people will remember her," said Jenna Lipson, 13.

"She was real nice," sixth grader Justin Brooks said. "She was there if you had a problem."

The construction of a pedestrian crosswalk isn't a lost issue in their minds, though it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Department of Transportation.

Lewis said the youngsters were encouraged when area politicians, who received copies of the petition, wrote them letters describing the efforts they were making to arrange a transportation study.

But the purchase of a plaque is a more attainable goal, and the student council has agreed to donate some of the profits from school dances toward it.

The candy sale was just one more piece in a cathartic puzzle that is

helping the youngsters deal with their loss.

For instance, they spoke excitedly of the forthcoming yearbooks. All three will include special sections with pictures of Melinda.

"It's important that they don't forget," Lewis said. "I think it's made their lives more valuable."

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