Lent is a “season” of 40 days prior to the celebration of Easter. During Lent, many Christians temporarily “give up” things that they consider to be part of their daily lives – some people fast, others may abstain from watching television, while others say no to chocolate or candy. This year, my 10-year-old daughter decided that instead of “giving up” something, it would be more impactful to “GIVE” to others in need. She learned about the Pennies for Peace program, and how the program builds schools and educates children in need in Central Asia. She was especially taken with the fact that Central Asia Institute was wanted girls to be included as students and receive the same education as boys.
She decided she wanted to share information about Pennies for Peace and also raise money to buy school supplies and other items to help children in the program. Over the course of Lent, she sent out emails to our neighbors through our Home Owners Association email system and placed a Pennies for Peace jar on our front porch and invited neighbors to donate their loose change to the cause. With each email, she provided an update on the funds raised to-date, and also any current news or interesting information about the program. For instance, in one communication, she gave statistics about the importance of educating girls in this part of the world and how much it helps their families if they are educated and able to get a job. In another email, she shared that Pennies for Peace had started raising funds for security walls so that all the children could attend school safely and not have to worry about outside attacks.
She was also allowed, by her teacher, to place a Pennies for Peace jar in her classroom and share information about the program with the students. The catch to all of this is that we, her parents, agreed to match the funds that she raised, thereby doubling her impact.
Over the course of 40 days, she raised $235.24 in loose change from neighbors and classmates…in pennies alone she raised $61.50 (that’s 6,150 pennies!). We rolled a lot of coins and took them to the bank to have them cashed, and then we sent a check, to Pennies for Peace for $470.48!
This was such a fun project for her as she was able to ask people to do a very simple thing – part with all their loose change – to help provide an education to children, including girls, in Central Asia. In addition, it was a great way for her to observe Lent and learn how her actions here at home can have an impact on her counterparts half a world away.
She’s already working on expanding her efforts in observance of Lent next year!
Ginny Kirkland, Pennies for Peace donor