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Greensburg Salem flamingo fundraiser aids cancer patients | TribLIVE.com
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Greensburg Salem flamingo fundraiser aids cancer patients

Jacob Tierney
gtrflocking02101116
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Joey Lux (left), and Isabella Lucci, seniors at Greensburg Salem High School, place 10 flamingos in the yard of Cheri and Casey Cavanaugh, while 'flocking' along Brattleboro Drive in Greensburg, on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. The 'flocking' is part of a fundraiser that the girls are doing for their senior project, as they raise money for the Four Diamonds Organization, which helps to fight childhood cancer.
gtrflocking03101116
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Cheri Cavanaugh reacts to her home being 'flocked' along Brattleboro Drive in Greensburg, on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. The 'flocking' is part of a fundraiser by students at Greensburg Salem high School to raise money for the Four Diamonds Organization, which helps to fight childhood cancer.
gtrflocking01101116
Dan Speicher | Tribune-Review
Joey Lux (left), Katie Wotus, and Isabella Lucci, seniors at Greensburg Salem High School, place 10 flamingos in the yard of Cheri and Casey Cavanaugh, while 'flocking' along Brattleboro Drive in Greensburg, on Monday, Oct. 10, 2016. The 'flocking' is part of a fundraiser that the girls are doing for their senior project, as they raise money for the Four Diamonds Organization, which helps to fight childhood cancer.

Cheri Cavanaugh walked out of her Greensburg home Monday to stare in confusion at 10 plastic pink flamingos that hadn’t been there five minutes before.

She’d been “flocked.”

For $15, students, teachers and staff at Greensburg Salem School District can “flock” their friends with lawn ornaments that were popular post-World War II, fell out of favor in the 1960s and have since become icons of American kitsch. The money being raised will benefit Four Diamonds, an organization that supports cancer patients at Penn State Children’s Hospital.

Three Greensburg Salem seniors masterminded the clandestine landscaping project after hearing about other schools in the state doing similar fundraisers. Isabella Lucci, Joey Lux and Katie Wotus will spend the next month “flocking” yards all over the district.

“At first, I was like, ‘That sounds kind of crazy,’ ” Lucci said.

Eventually, she came around to the idea. The students ordered 50 plastic flamingos.

The students hope to raise $15,000 or more through flocking and a series of fundraisers over the school year, wrapping up in March with a Mini-THON, an overnight dance party.

When a donor chooses a flocking target, Lucci, Lux and Wotus plant the birds as stealthily as they can, a tricky task when carrying 10 neon pink flamingos, Lux said.

“The first time we went, it was kind of ninja,” she said.

They also place a sign to explain to the victim and passersby what is going on.

The flamingos will remain in each yard for three days before the students return to move them to a new victim. If homeowners want them gone right away, there’s an email address they can contact for expedited removal.

“It’s really cute; it’s really funny,” Cavanaugh said.

She was the first official victim of the flocking campaign, although the students did a few test runs on teachers and administrators last week.

High school Principal David Zilli was the first to have his house flocked.

“My wife noticed it early in the morning, then I went out and saw them and took a picture,” he said. “I saw many of my neighbors slow down and stop to look at the sign and see what it’s all about.”

Zilli was hesitant about allowing the fundraiser. He was worried property owners might not be tickled pink by an invasion of unrequested flamingos.

“The last thing I would want to do in a fundraiser, in something that’s supposed to be a community-based good thing, is have it be controversial,” Zilli said.

There are safeguards in place, he said. All the targeted properties will be owned by people connected in some way to the school district, like faculty members or students’ families. And anyone upset about the flamingos can get the birds removed right away.

With these caveats in place, Zilli said he thinks the campaign is a great idea.

“I think it’s a fun way to get the word out, and it really engages people from the community,” he said. “We take the billboard where you are.”

Those who have been flocked can donate $15 to choose the next target.

“It kind of keeps the fun going,” Wotus said.

Zilli nominated Cavanaugh, and Cavanaugh said she is eager to pick a new victim.

Homeowners can buy “flocking insurance” for $20 to prevent their house from getting flocked.

“We hit our principal, and we were all really nervous about that, but he reacted well,” Lucci said. “Everybody’s had a lot of fun with it so far.”

Jacob Tierney is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6646 or [email protected].

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