It’s Back to School for Pennies For Peace

Back to school is on the minds of many parents and children as the hazy days of summer shrink into cooler nights. Grocery store aisles of fresh pencils, colorful notebooks, and backpacks are replacing summer coolers, beach balls, and sun hats. Halfway across the world in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan students and their parents are thinking about going back to school too. Many schools have been on a summer break, and in some areas it’s too hot to go to school in summer, so they wait until the cooler months to start classes.

These children share more similarities than you might think. Though many CAI students receive their school supplies from generous donors, they too are excited by the smell of fresh pencil shavings and hug their new backpacks tightly. Many of the students in CAI schools wear uniforms and form straight lines in the schoolyard, waiting for the day to begin.

The parents share similarities as well. All parents want their children to learn and thrive. They want them to make good decisions, and to learn skills they can use in the future. They want their children to understand their actions can make a difference, and they create value in the world.

Pennies For Peace Brings These Worlds Together

Pennies for Peace, CAI’s service-learning project, helps connect children who live in vastly different places and teaches participants about other cultures, philanthropy, and the power of something as small as a penny.

This year, teachers from all over the world are planning P4P programs as their new students file into classrooms. They are pulling lessons from the free P4P curriculums and imagining how to help their students flex their creative muscles to plan thoughtful penny drives and fundraisers to involve their schools and communities in the mission to teach the value of philanthropy and kindness.

From Little Things Big Things Grow

Last year we asked our P4P participants to help raise $40,000 to rebuild the crumbling Dasht school in Tajikistan. Penny by penny 81 schools joined community groups and individuals to surpass this goal by more than $3,000. It’s amazing to see the impact these small groups of students created when they came together.

Sometimes the entire school got involved. The staff at A. Vito Martinez Middle School outside of Chicago were all excited to lend a hand when teacher Allison Kucharski asked them to help out. “Students placed penny jars in the cafeteria – each labeled with a different teacher’s name. At the end of the penny drive, the teachers whose jars were full got pied in the face by the students,” said Allison. “It’s really a fun way for the kids to celebrate their success, and for us to say ‘We believe in what you’re doing and we support you.”

Other students performed plays, volunteered for acts of service, or held competitions to raise money for the students at the Dasht school so they would have a safe place to learn. When they learned how far a penny goes to buy school supplies and food in another country, their motivation to help others and their pride in their penny drives triples.

“My students are fascinated by how far a penny stretches in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan,” says Michele Hay, teacher at Foothills Elementary School and one of the P4P participants for many years. “They talk about how much money they raised, and what that will buy in Central Asia. They talk about the impact their participation will have on children in these remote locations. It’s wonderful to see how the whole school embraces the program.”

What Will The Power of A Penny Bring This Year

The start of another school year means the P4P programs will soon be in full swing. We can’t wait to hear the reactions from students as they learn about their peers in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan and we can’t wait to see what ideas they come up with for their own penny drives.

The new school year is another opportunity for these students to learn about the world and to realize they have the ability to make very real changes, even by doing something small. Good luck to all students on their first days at school, and to the students abroad returning from a break.

If you are interested in starting a P4P program in your classroom or at home, please visit the Pennies for Peace website for more information and to sign up.



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