More than 17 people in a developing country far-away will soon have a permanent source of clean drinking water for life thanks to the penny-pinching ways of students at Central elementary.
Students in Christopher Lister's and Brad Hagkull's Grade 5/6 classes scrounged pennies throughout the months of November and December hoping to collect 10,000 for a clean water campaign by Free the Children.
However by the time they were ready to deposit the loot at the downtown RBC branch on the last day of school before the Christmas break, they had smashed their goal and collected 37,500 and another $70 in other change.
"We thought it might be difficult for kids to actually find 100 pennies and to find pennies around the house," Lister told the Times, "but it actually became easy for the kids. Their parents had stashes. They had their own stashes of pennies in their piggy banks that they brought in, so it was actually a little bit easier than we thought."
The penny drive grew out of the school's participation in We Day, an annual national Free the Children youth empowerment event aimed at motivating kids to take action on local and global issues.
Twenty Central students attended the We Day event in Vancouver in October, and a core group came back ready to motivate others.
"Once kids understand that there's a need, it just makes sense to them that they need to do something," Lister said.
The students themselves came up with the idea of a movie night at the school, he said, so organizers opened up the school on a Friday night and charged students 100 pennies to attend.
Individual students dug up the rest of the pennies wherever they could find them.
"I got some from my dad and I found some in my room under my bed and I found some off the street," student Shelly Crane told the Times.
"I asked my neighbours if they could help me," Chelsea Edgar-Jones said.
Kristina Pham parted with the contents of an old, forgotten piggy bank.
"It was full of just pennies," she said. Sydney Bennett left no stone unturned: "My closet, a drawer and all around the house, around the couch, inside the couch. We have a drawer where we keep a bunch of stuff, so basically I can just find pennies in there and in my closet."
Lister's and Hagkull's classes walked to RBC downtown to make their deposit.
RBC teller Amy Edlund has seen three other schools make similar deposits.
She has attended We Day herself and is a big fan of the program.
"Anybody who hasn't should go," she said.
"It's wonderful, and to see the effect afterwards, it's amazing."
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