No nickels or dimes, just pennies

Guest Blog by Brent Lance

Science and math teacher, Hiawassee GA

It’s easy to “catch” students being generous this time of year (close to Thanksgiving and Christmas). But I am witnessing something that demonstrates this virtue beyond what I expected.

Our high school created a class competition called “Pennies for Presents.” Each grade level has a 5-gallon water jug, placed on the stage in the cafeteria during lunch periods.

Each team gets 1 point per penny in its jug, and it loses points for any coins that are not pennies. This is how the penalty works — if a freshman places a quarter in the seniors’ jug, the seniors lose 25 points. In the end, the team with the most points will receive a pizza party and helps wrap presents for needy children, purchased with the pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

It has been exciting to see kids competing this way. Most of the jugs were filled by Thanksgiving break. Students were excited to compete against the other classes in a way that helped needy children.

Many told me they were hoping to win so they could wrap the presents. They said they had never wrapped presents for other kids, and it would help them experience the “giving” side of the holiday.

Our principal enhanced the excitement by offering to donate $500 worth of pennies to the winning team.

The overall winner will be announced a week before we get out for Christmas break. I estimate that this fundraiser has had over 75% student participation between October and the first week in December. The students showed tremendous generosity as did our principal. We have experienced how this kind of generosity and teamwork make the world a better place for everyone.