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Pennies for Peace

Crofton Elementary Community School, in School District 79 (Cowichan Valley), on Vancouver Island, successfully participated in a “Pennies for Peace” campaign during the winter of the 2009–10 school year. Pennies for Peace is an international fundraising project to raise money, by collecting pennies, for secular, public schools which have a specific focus on the education of girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The school children reached out to the Crofton community, and further into the Cowichan Valley, to collect donations. Ms. Jean Crowder, MP, Nanaimo–Cowichan, was able to visit the school and share with the children the role Canada has in supporting developing nations. Donations were received by local MLAs Bill Routley, Cowichan Valley, and Doug Routley, Nanaimo–North Cowichan. In addition, donations were received from members of Local 2, Pulp, Paper Woodworkers of Canada.

Coastal Community Credit Union was instrumental with the penny count, donating the services of six tellers to assist with counting, rolling, and tallying pennies. Throughout the campaign, the students were unbelievable in their determination to collect as many pennies as possible, and for two months the students continued to gather pennies with unrelenting fervour.

Pennies for Peace emphasizes to children the value of philanthropy, and specifically there is a focus on the penny—deemed virtually worthless nowadays in our industrialized nation. Through this campaign, the penny was transformed into a valuable commodity, as the children learned that a $500 donation provides for the annual salary of a teacher in Pakistan.

The project was greatly supported by the lessons and materials provided by the Pennies for Peace curriculum package, available online (www.penniesforpeace.org), and by the books Three Cups of Tea (Young Readers’ Edition); and Listen to the Wind, penned by founding author of the Pennies for Peace organization, Greg Mortenson.

It was a magical afternoon, beginning with a slide show presentation from Vancouver Island activist, Judy Norby, who has campaigned for the rights of disabled individuals in Pakistan. For over an hour, 180 students, from K to Grade 7, worked together to count and roll pennies, and at the end of the afternoon, the school had collected 75,600 pennies! After all other donations were counted, the students cheered as the final tally reached $939.

The Crofton Elementary Community School staff felt that teaching children the intrinsic value of philanthropy is a worthwhile educational activity, and recommend the Pennies for Peace campaign to other educators.

Submitted by John Boan-Mitchell, Crofton Elementary School, SD79
March 2010


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