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Arboga students gather pennies to aid Hurricane Sandy relief
School seeks community's help in Superstorm fundraiser
To support the students' efforts to aid Hurricane Sancy victims, residents can drop off money, including checks, from 7:45 a.m.- 4 p.m. through Friday at the Arboga Elementary School office, 1686 Broadway Road, Olivehurst.
The smell of fresh cinnamon rolls wafting in the air, Arboga Elementary School students raced into the school's cafeteria on Wednesday morning.
But copper and zinc, not the pungent spice, were on their minds.
A penny drive to aid Superstorm Sandy relief efforts has taken hold at the Olivehurst school, raising more than $435 and creating some friendly grade rivalries lined with a bit of sabotage.
"Still doing good, going strong," fourth-grade teacher Nicole Robertson said as another student dropped pennies into her respective grade's bucket.
The competition runs through Friday, with a popsicle party and the chance to help students and teachers on the East Coast at stake.
Robertson and fellow fourth-grade teacher Becky Buist launched the penny drive as a way to engage and educate students about the devastating scenes they likely saw on TV, as well as to introduce them to civic engagement.
"We've turned it into kind of a fun way to do a good thing" Robertson said, encouraging the greater community to become involved as well.
School officials are hoping to see the final fund matched by a charity, with a destination of a to-be-named school impacted by Sandy. Buist has a former roommate who works at an ABC station in New York who might help identify a worthy one.
"She's going to get me a couple of names of schools that are still in rough times," Buist said.
Devon Conway is set to make a big fundraising splash by the end of the week, as the fourth-grader guarantees he will bring in a $20 bill from his grandpa.
"He really wants those popsicles," fourth-grader Cason Ames said with a laugh after hearing the plan.
Devon's situation isn't unique, Buist said, as students have gone from bringing coins from here and there to asking parents and relatives for something that might make a little more of a dent.
"Lots of green cash, now," she said.
Students like fourth-grader Aaliyah Morneo tally their coin contributions in the thousands — with a smirk — and said the campaign has helped them feel good to know they are helping other students.
"I've always told my parents about (the drive)," Aaliyah said, adding that they think it is "pretty cool to help everybody out."
Unfortunately for the school's sixth-graders, the nature of the fundraiser has the group in negative points and a long way from the popsicle party. Anything besides pennies, while all helping the cause, takes away points from a grade's score.
Fifth-grader Victoria Bush admitted to a bit of sneaky play, while sixth-grader Kerston Rose was quick to point out on Wednesday that her team was still not doing so well.
But despite the competition, students know they're making a difference in people's lives.
"People come in every day with big bags of pennies and quarters and stuff," Victoria said.
For the Arboga Elementary School community, staff pointed out, the penny drive also comes as chance to practice a bit of paying it forward, as other people have donated time, money and their efforts to help when the area has experienced flooding.
While contributions have only come from students and teachers thus far, Robertson and Buist said they are confident that residents will become involved once they hear about how they can help.
"This community is really good at coming together and doing things like this," Robertson said.