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Students harvest pennies for charity

Remember all those pennies you got as change and tossed into your pocket or the bottom of your purse? Well, dig them out. Snoqualmie Middle School is participating in a "Penny Harvest" this year to raise money to help the Snoqualmie Valley community.

The fundraiser/philanthropy project, which is held by Common Cents, a national nonprofit organization, began Oct. 23. Representatives from each class and grade at the school handed out reinforced paper bags to students wanting to participate so they could collect as many pennies, or other change, as possible before Nov. 22, said Andrew Derryberry, seventh grader.

"The school likes to help the community," said Taylor Pearlstein, seventh grader. "It's really fun to do these things."

The goal is to meet the 25-sack challenge issued by Common Cents, in which 25 sacks of pennies equal $1,000, and in turn receive a check for $1,000 to put to use in the community, according to Leisa Fowler, SMS librarian. When the goal is met, participating students join a round-table discussion in which they study community problems and research local nonprofit organizations that can help with those problems.

The students then decide which organization(s) should receive money, and how much. More than one organization can be chosen.

"We're really focused on getting every kid to participate," said Mike Beebe, program director. "It's not so much about the dollar, although that's a great tool for learning. We raise kids, not dollars."

The students won't know whether they will get a round-table discussion until after the change has been handed in and counted by the company, but they're still preparing by gathering ideas.

"We all like to help people who need money, food or shelter," said Laura Beckes, seventh grader.

Extra collection bags may be found in the school library and each of its offices, said Fowler.

"We like to be involved with the community," said Amanda Beekman, seventh grader. "This way everyone can be involved."

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