\Lately it seems like all we hear on the news is bad.
\Lately it seems like all we hear on the news is bad. Homes are always being foreclosed, stores are going out of business, banks are failing all over the place. However, you might be surprised that people have a couple extra cents to spare for a great cause, like the Penny Harvest.
In 1991, the Penny Harvest was born in New York City. It had a simple message: have students collect spare pennies, then donate it all to a selected charity. Well, the idea caught on fast, and now it has traveled all the way out to Colorado, where it is currently wrapping up it's second year of success. In fact, this year alone, students from 31 Coloradan schools earned nearly $38,000! Roxborough Elementary School, in Douglas County, was one of the top contributors this year.
I spoke with Liza Gallegos, mother and "Penny Harvest Coach" to Roxborough. She spoke about how the 900 children at Roxborough chipped in. "Our school had a big assembly to talk about what we're going to do and basically we just talked about…charities they like and want to support," she said. She also mentioned that the children decorated bricks with the names of their favorite charities and placed them on a "Wall of Caring", as a reminder of the fantastic rewards of earning money in the Penny Harvest. "We're trying to get our voices heard," said Ms. Gallegos.
Well, now that the children have raised the money, the only question is, "What do we do with it?" The student council gets to make that decision. They will interview several of their most popular charities, and decide which one the money will be sent to. Some of the finalists are The Gathering Place, which provides a homeless shelter and food for women and children, The Red Cross, which provides medical help for victims of disasters, The Diabetes Research Foundation, which researches a cure for the disability of Diabetes, The Make-A-Wish foundation, which grants the wishes of sick and disabled children, and the Dumb Friends League, which provides care for animals in need. Three of these interviews have already taken place.
I asked what type of questions the children will be asking. "All of their questions they come up with on their own. They've been asking what percentage will go to their cause. They also asked, 'Can we volunteer within your organization?'". The children will reach a decision by next Tuesday. I was also lucky enough to speak to Ms. Gallegos's son, Mason, who is one of the interviewers. He is nine years old and in the third grade. When asked what his favorite part of this program was, he answered, "I like to interview people." He also stated that he liked the Dumb Friends League best, of all the charities he's interviewed so far. Also lending us his voice was Trevor Mccord, age 11, who is in the sixth grade at Roxborough. He said he loved "leading the program and giving back to the community." He stated that he preferred the Make-A-Wish foundation, which he believes needs the most help. I also asked him what he plans to do to celebrate the absolute end of the fundraiser. He expects to have a party, maybe inviting someone from the charity to attend. "We'll just kind of have fun and enjoy," he said. It just goes to show that one cent can really make a difference. It can buy much-needed supplies for people who have nothing to spare. It can save the life of a lovable pet. However, under the surface, it can make a difference to the person who gave it up. It can prove that even in these hard times, we will always have a few loose pennies to spare.