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Students gather pennies for schools in Middle East
Pennie for Peace pic1
Students at Denair Academic Avenues Charter School dump in their saved up pennies to raise money for schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan through the Pennies for Peace program. - photo by MAEGAN MARTENS / The Journal

First, second and third graders at Denair Academic Avenues Charter School had the chance to look at things they would miss at their school if they weren’t available during a Pennies for Peace campaign kick-off rally last week.

Teacher Becky Julien announced an item students currently have at school and then asked if they would miss that item. The students were told to put their thumbs up if they would miss each item.

Painting? Thumbs up. Dancing? Thumbs up. Computers? Thumbs up. Teachers? Big thumbs up.

“All those things would be missing from your life and that is why we are collecting pennies so kids in Pakistan and Afghanistan can have a school like you,” said Julien, program director for Denair Academic Avenues.

The Pennies for Peace program began in 1994 when Westside Elementary School in Wisconsin raised 62,340 pennies to help build a school in Pakistan. Greg Mortenson — co-author of the book “Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time” —built a school in Pakistan with the money raised through Westside Elementary and has continued the program nationwide.

According to the program’s website, Pennies for Peace is designed to help students broaden their cultural horizons and learn about their capacities as philanthropists. It educates students about the world beyond their experience and shows them that they can make a positive impact on a global scale, one penny at a time.

Students at the Denair Academic Avenues were excited to start raising money for students in the Middle East.

“A penny isn’t worth a lot by itself but together we can make a difference,” about 15 students said at the same time on Thursday when they gave a presentation to their classmates.

About 50 parents were present at Thursday’s assembly along with all the students at Denair Academic Avenues, to get pumped up for the penny fundraiser.

“It is good because it will help them get food,” said third grader Jacob Maxwell.

So far, he has already brought in 500 pennies to contribute to the school-wide fundraiser. His goal is to bring in 2,000 pennies by the end of the fundraiser in January when the school plans to send the money to the Central Asia Institute.

“I really want to help them build schools,” Maxwell said.

Those interested in donating pennies to the Pennies for Peace fundraiser can contact Denair Academic Avenues at 632-6906.

To contact Maegan Martens, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2015.