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Learning the Value of Giving

If you told your daughter she could wear her slippers to school, would she? What if you shared with your son that he could go to class wearing his favorite Josh Hamilton jersey? What if there were more to it than just being comfy?

At Meadows Elementary School in Plano, the students are no strangers to giving back. Jennifer Magee’s Student Council members participate in service projects monthly, but in October they wanted to step outside the box of car washes and canned food drives.

“[They thought about] what would help children their same age,” Magee says. They also wanted to get the whole school involved. Their solution? Collect coins to donate to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The fundraiser was quickly dubbed “Pasta for Pennies,” in reference to a party catered by the Olive Garden for the participating students.

According to Magee, as an incentive to donate, any student who brought in coins from October 6-22 could dress up for school, from slippers to bling to crazy hair. The students passed out coin boxes to all the classrooms, and gallon coin bags were collected weekly.
Magee says they were so successful that, at first, they ran into a small road bump. “We burned out the coin machine at the first bank!” she says. But that was no sweat off her back. They took the coins to Coinstar to be recounted, and by the end of the month, the students had surpassed their goal of $3,000. That’s no surprise, considering the students went above and beyond the call of (coin-collecting) duty.

“They went to restaurants, to Kroger, door to door,” Magee says. “I could see the gratification they got from giving to somebody else.”

Perhaps the enthusiasm stemmed from realizing the weight of their cause. First and foremost, they had to understand what cancer was. Magee says it turned out that a lot of the kids ended up knowing someone who had cancer, so they would talk and share stories, educating the other students about the disease.

In the end, Magee says that the more they collected, the more motivated they became. “One of the kids said that reaching our goal was like Tony Romo making a touchdown.”