In for a pound: ‘Penny wars’ nets three tons of change

Hamlet Middle School aims to curb hunger through greenhouse, food drive

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

HAMLET — Jayla Copeland won’t take credit for the idea. But she sure is happy she recalled it.

Two years ago, the then Hamlet Middle School sixth-grader heard someone talk about “penny wars,” a creative way to raise funds for a given cause. The idea died quickly that year. Now secretary of the school’s Student Government Association, she brought it up when this year’s group of student body officers were brainstorming ideas to raise money and help the less fortunate.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com From left to right: Caitlyn Daniel, SGA vice president; Jayla Copeland, secretary; and Jadah Littles, treasurer, stand with a portion of food items donated by the Hamlet Middle School student body.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
From left to right: Caitlyn Daniel, SGA vice president; Jayla Copeland, secretary; and Jadah Littles, treasurer, stand with a portion of food items donated by the Hamlet Middle School student body.

Copeland said it worked like this: Each homeroom representative — which comprises the SGA membership, along with the president, vice president and treasurer — challenged their fellow students to bring in as many pennies as possible. Each day at lunch, those pennies were deposited into storage containers. One hundred pennies for one class and 50 for another meant the the first class was 50 pennies ahead in the race for a grade-specific pizza party.

Copeland noted that only two quarters, however, could make everything even. Students were able to put silver coins — nickels, dimes, quarters and half-dollars — into other classes’ containers. The value of the coins negated an equal amount of pennies.

In the end, the student body at Hamlet Middle School cashed in 73,696 pennies — more than 6,485 pounds of pennies — totaling $736.96. With the silver coins, the drive netted more than $1,200 that will spur the construction of a greenhouse on campus.

The drive was in two parts, said Caitlyn Daniel, SGA vice president. Penny wars on one hand to help create a sustainable, long-term effort of helping the less fortunate have basic, healthy food items. Greenhouse produce will be donated to the Hamlet soup kitchen. The second part was a seven-day canned food drive, that will restock the soup kitchen’s food pantry. More than 15 churches pull from that food pantry to help feed others, said David Rathfon said, SGA co-advisor along with Beth Richardson.

Rathfon said some students got into the strategy more than others. The key, he said, was to amass as large a pile of copper coins as possible.

“There was no way they were going to get enough silver change to negate all that,” Rathfon said.

Daniel said some students even broke into their personal piggy banks to beef up their homerooms totals.

“They had a lot of fun with it,” Rathfon said.

Homeroom class winners belonged to the students in: Whitney Smith’s sixth grade class; Joshua Boyd’s seventh grade class; and Ralph Butler’s eighth grade class.

Copeland agreed the efforts help establish a legacy for this year’s students. Personally, though, she’s hopeful and optimistic next year’s students do even better as she moves on to the Ninth Grade Academy.

“We’ll have a new set of sixth-graders” with new ideas, Copeland said.

Rathfon said this year’s student body leaders have shown the underclassmen how to get things done while following a democratic process. As a result, those younger students “have taken an interest” in how things are run at Hamlet Middle School.

And that might be an even stronger legacy than any one project.

 

Filed in: Education, Farm & Ag, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News

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  • Jim Butler

    Once again the Red Rams have created positive news. Congratulations to David Rathfon and his Student Government kids. Job well done.

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