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Giving peace a chance through school-based penny drive

Telkwa Elementary School students Rebecca Andruchow and Marie Tome tell parents and teachers how their Pennies for Peace campaign has been going: very well. To date the students have raised over $700.

What may not seem like much here could make a world of difference to someone else, which is the prime reason behind the Pennies for Peace campaign that is ongoing at Telkwa Elementary School.

At a silent auction that they held for Literacy Day events recently, students in Linda Kusleika’s Grade 6/7 class raised $165.75 towards the project. Local businesses were key and very generous, student Jacob Neglia said, in donating items for bid, such as a family portrait from a photographer to a Steve Nash poster.

Pennies for Peace is a campaign started by Greg Mortenson, student Luke Windle explains, after he was critically injured on a mountain climbing trip in Pakistan. Nursed to health by the locals of a small village, they denied his offers to help pay for services received, Windle explains, citing the only need their community had was for an educational facility.

In particular, Mortenson noticed the lack of school facilities for girls, and in 2003 he had enough funds to build one school. Since then, with the help of students world-wide who have championed his cause, 141 schools have been built.

“What’s important to me is that they’re leading this, because they’re the leaders of tomorrow,” Kusleika said. “That’s what has me excited as a teacher.”

To date, the students have collected approximately $700 through various fundraisers. In terms of what that can do for the students of Pakistan and Afghanistan, that’s either 4,666 notebooks, 35,000 erasers, 70,000 pencils, or 4.6 per cent of all costs associated to building an entire school — quite the achievement for the students of Telkwa Elementary School.

“It’s pretty cool,” Windle said.