Some of the younger ones couldn’t even say the word Pakistan, but that didn’t stop them from gathering up pennies in a fundraiser to help students in another country. The Rockford Rotary fall reading Festival was a kick-off for Pennies for Peace, a district-wide collection of change to help fund schools in Pakistan. Now, nearing the end of the year deadline, the kids have collected over $2,000 and hope to reach their goal of $5,000.
“It isn’t the amount of money they raised that is so inspiring,” said Cindy Kitzrow, Rockford schools director of library and media services, “It’s the fact that they are so excited to help children in another country and what they are learning about these kids.”
The Pennies for Peace program was founded by mountain climber Greg Mortinson who was injured in Pakistan. Members of a village found him and brought him back to health. While recuperating, he realized the village had no school. Children there learned lessons one day a week while sitting out in the dirt. Now Mortinson encourages students in the United States to collect pennies so children in Pakistan can attend school. It costs just $5,000 a year to maintain a school in Pakistan.
Kitzrow has been collecting the pennies and has heard many heartwarming stories. One girl couldn’t say the word Pakistan. When her parents came to school conferences they found out what she had been trying to tell them about.
A boy from Roguewood did a neighborhood can collection and turned in the money. A girl from that school had a carnival in her house to raise pennies. At Cannonsburg Elementary, the kids performed a play for their school telling the story. A Crestwood students wrote letters to all his relatives asking for donations instead of Christmas presents. Another child donated the rolled coins she was saving to purchase an electronic game.
“They are thinking about the kids who don’t have a school to go to,” said Kitzrow. She added that these schools also allow girls, unlike traditional schools in Pakistan. Also on the curriculum is learning the value of a penny in that country. One penny will buy a pencil there. Fifteen pennies can purchase a notebook. A teacher’s salary is $600.
“This fit into our curriculum in so many ways,” Kitzrow said. There are donation jars in the banks and credit union in Rockford where donations may be made. “The kids are the ones who have taken this so far,” Kitzrow stated. “The teachers aren’t the ones who have made this such a big deal, it’s all the kids.”