The penny may soon become history, but students and staff in the Louis Riel School Division have found a few to help out those less fortunate in our community.
Make that more than a few -- five pallets full of coffee cans, large buckets and boxes wrapped in Christmas paper were delivered to the Christmas Cheer Board's warehouse Monday afternoon, courtesy of the Pennies from LRSD campaign.
The students and staff at the division's 40 schools have been scrounging for pennies and fundraising to get as many donations of pennies, dollars and cheques as they can. Traditionally, the donations, which roll into the Free Press's Pennies from Heaven, represent up to a quarter of the entire donations our campaign receives.
Duane Brothers, the division's new superintendent, said he's pleased the annual Pennies from LRSD campaign has become a holiday tradition. The campaign was initiated by recently retired superintendent Terry Borys a decade ago.
"Thank you so very much for working with us," Brothers said, shortly after helping division staff belt out Christmas carols as student representatives arrived to deposit their donations in a large truck.
"Thanks for acknowledging what truly makes this happen -- the eager participation of young people throughout our 40 Louis Riel schools."
Sammi Dillon, 10, a Grade 5 student at École Provencher School, along with Grade 6 student Julie Ruttan, 11, were among the first to arrive at the division's offices to hand over the school's donations.
"We counted (pennies) by the tens," Dillon said.
"We had fun doing it," added Ruttan.
A teacher said the students counted $310 and one penny.
Students arrived from Niakwa Place School accompanied by their school mascot Shadow, a panther.
"We asked everyone in the school to bring in pennies," Grade 5 student Kayla Dunn-Gray, 10, said. "We had a box and went around to get the pennies."
Liam Frain, a 13-year-old student at General Vanier School, was one of the students who went to each classroom collecting the donations other students brought in.
Frain said the students weighed the coins. "I collected over 95 pounds," he said.
Now that the pallets have been delivered, Christmas Cheer Board volunteers will spend the next few days sorting, counting and wrapping the pennies so they can be converted from coins to the dollars needed to provide food hampers and Christmas presents to people who might not otherwise have those.
The LRSD students have done what they can this year. Now it's up to you. The students are the philanthropists of tomorrow, but they are already stepping up today.
With Christmas a week away, we need the rest of you to bring your coins to a Walmart, RBC branch, or Portage Place. We need you to write cheques and send them in the mail to the Free Press -- with or without the original ballot for our fundraising contest.
But there's no time to waste because we want it to look a lot like Christmas for everyone in our community.
Where to donate
THERE are giant collection bins inside all our city's Walmart stores. Look for the bin featuring a winged me with my two daughters. All RBC branches in the city have our collection bins.
Our giant penny is once again on the second floor of Portage Place facing the Edmonton Court. There is a bin at the Winnipeg Free Press at 1355 Mountain Ave.
Cheques can be sent to Pennies from Heaven, c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6. Tax receipts will be issued.