Students at Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School recently collected $1,204.36 – in pennies – to benefit good causes in the area.
Members of the school’s Leadership Cadre, a service learning club, started their campaign in November, encouraging their fellow students to donate spare change.
The spare-change drive at Polk State is part of a national effort led by the nonprofit Common Cents, an organization that specializes in creating and managing service-learning programs for young people. Since 1991, students all over the country have participated in the organization’s Penny Harvest, collecting spare change that funds grants for community organizations. Penny Harvest is the largest child philanthropy program in the United States.
On Tuesday, the Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School Students loaded several bags of pennies into the back of a MidFlorida Credit Union van. Jeanette Wallace, community relations coordinator for the credit union, said MidFlorida will issue a check back to the school.
In January, the Leadership Cadre will conduct its Philanthropic Roundtable to decide where the money should be spent. This is the fourth year the school has participated in Penny Harvest. Past donations have gone to the Winter Haven Housing Authority and Inwood Elementary School, as just two examples.
“I like to do the Penny Harvest. I like being involved in the community,” said Kayleigh Butler, 17, a senior and the student leader of Leadership Cadre. The club’s teacher sponsor is Sarah Brucato.
Fellow student Whitley Mumm added that this semester her sociology class has made weekly trips to The Mission, serving meals to the homeless.
“We’ve seen poverty firsthand. It’s really good to see the kind of people we’re helping with Penny Harvest,” said Mumm, 17, also a senior and a Leadership Cadre member.
Polk State Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School Director Bridget Fetter said she was delighted to see the students once again participate in Penny Harvest.
“I’m so proud that our students took on this effort. It’s fulfilling to watch our students show empathy to others and work to make a difference in their community,” she said.