Faith Drobinski's need to give back stemmed from the death of losing family members to cancer; her mother died in 2009 and her grandfather when she was a teenager. In the fall of 2009, Drobinski participated in her first 5K and four years later she's campaigning to be the Delaware Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Woman of the Year.

Drobinski, a Smyrna resident and Clayton Elementary teacher, said her involvement with LLS has not only helped in the healing process but it keeps the memory of her mother alive.

"I need to make a difference," Drobinski said. "I need to know that I am working towards a goal that will one day hopefully take away cancer. Not only for the patients, but also their families and friends because it hurts so much for everyone."

Woman of the Year is a 10-week fundraising competition that challenges candidates of the local community to earn the title of Man or Woman of the Year, according to the LLS website. The Delaware campaign started March 28 and concludes at the Grand Finale Celebration on June 8. The winner will be the man and woman who raise the most money. The candidates run in honor of the Boy & Girl of the Year – Layton Hansen and James Del Vescovo.

Drobinski, 31, was nominated because of her previous work with LLS. She likes working with the organization because of the amount of money LLS donates towards cancer research.

So far Drobinski has raised roughly $5,000. The money was raised by selling Easter baskets, private donations, and tickets bought for the finale. Tickets for the finale bought through Drobinski's webpage go towards her campaign.

Upcoming fundraisers

In the next few weeks, Drobinski will have several fundraisers. Chipotle will donate 50 percent of their sales Monday, May 6 to the campaign. Drobinski will be a guest bartender Tuesday, May 7 at SportZone. There will be a gymnastics open gym at Stick It! in Dover on Saturday, May 18. There will be a dinner on Sunday, May 19 at Kirby & Holloway in Dover. The meal is free but there will be auction items and a donation box.

Teamwork and community support

Helping Drobinski plan everything is Tammy Dias, mother of one of Drobinski's students. Her daughter Natalie has been one of the top fundraisers at Clayton Elementary so Drobinski asked the Dias family to help with the campaign. Natalie's brother Niko was a top fundraiser when he was at the school as well and passed to torch on to Natalie.

"I think it's important in today's day and age," Dias said. "I know my kids are so darn spoiled, they may not realize how lucky they are. It's good to help other people so they see it's not always about other people giving you something but what you can do for other people."

The response Drobinski and Dias have received so far has been great. Drobinski said the people in the Smyrna/Clayton area are just very giving and empathetic.

Drobinski also gives back through her online store Sweet Birdie Boutique. Through the shop, she's donated items to be auctioned off at other fundraisers.

"I know the economy is bad and it's hard for people but I feel like people have been so generous. I've had people just email me asking if they can donate something. I've had people that I'm not even close with at all and all of a sudden there's a donation on my page," Drobinski said. "It's really made this so much more meaningful for me."

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