Bozeman, Montana, CAI’s hometown, embraced a new chapter of our Pennies for Peace (P4P) program, launching initiatives around town. Events started on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (also recognized as the National Day of Service) and continued through the month of January. Along with fundraising efforts, including coin collections to go towards the promotion of education for girls and women in remote regions of Central Asia, the goal of the events was to raise awareness of the importance of giving back.
A gathering at Lockhorn Cider House kicked off the month-long celebration of service, where CAI photographer Erik Petersen’s work was displayed and a slideshow and a talk by CAI Director Jim Thaden took place. Among those who attended were supporters of CAI and others who were interested in learning more about CAI. “I’ve donated money to CAI for years,” said one woman after the slideshow. “I like the uniqueness of this organization; they are getting things done. I believe in education and women’s rights, and through this I can also vicariously visit Himalayas.”
She had a friend with her who wasn’t as familiar with the organization. “I came because I was curious about how the CAI has evolved, and also to try the cider here,” he admits. The support from local businesses such as the Lockhorn is a powerful way to connect with community members and to spread the word about CAI programs and the importance of service. Lockhorn owners Anna and Glenn Deal regularly support area nonprofit organizations by hosting events, but this one was particularly important to them. “We are going above and beyond for this one by matching funds and giving out cider for penny jar donations,” Anna said. “We have three kids, two of them daughters, and giving kids the opportunity to have an education is so important. Without it you’re stuck with whatever your immediate surroundings are, but with education you can find your passions and break out.”
P4P: Service Learning at Local Schools
These events also coincided with the launch of the new P4P curriculum at several Bozeman-area public schools and as part of the Greater Gallatin United Way Kids-Link After-School program. P4P has been in existence since 1996, and it started when a school in Wisconsin raised 62,340 pennies to help build a school in Pakistan. Since that time, 50 states and 31 different countries have participated raising more than $7 million and supporting more than 100,000 students in remote regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.
“The program was successful before, but we wanted to ramp it up again,” explained P4P Program Manager Alanna Brown. “We created a new curriculum to meet standard core requirements, revamped the website, and put new life into it.” Designed as a service-learning program, P4P provides schools with free toolkits and a K-12 curriculum. Activities cover themes such as the power of education, effects of extreme poverty, cultural understanding, geography, politics, humanitarian efforts, and global citizenship. The program encourages students to broaden their cultural horizons and come to understand their own capacities as humanitarians. “It’s a way for kids to support kids overseas, and learn that even the smallest act of kindness can make a big difference in someone’s life,” Alanna explains.
Other Community Initiatives
Another event was held at Bozeman’s 406 brewery, where a portion of drink sales was donated to the P4P program, raffle tickets were sold throughout the packed tasting room, and P4P program information was available. “We’re very open to hosting non-profit events like this,” says 406 owner Matt Muth. “Being part of the community is who we are, and we’re happy to share the space for a good cause.”
Kerry Hanson, vice president of Montana State University’s Alumni Relations program and a longtime CAI supporter, came to the event with friends. “The work is so meaningful and still really relevant, probably more so now than ever,” she said. She connected the P4P program with her sister’s school in a different state and was impressed by the results. “It was positive and meaningful for the teachers and the students,” Kerry explained. “I’m a supporter of education in general; you can’t take knowledge away, it empowers people.”
Bozeman coffee shop Zocalo donated 50 percent of all sales of a special latte for the month of January to P4P. “I felt it was important to support the CAI and Pennies for Peace, because an education is one of the most important things a child can be given, and that is what P4P is trying to do,” says co-owner Lilly Herro. “I’ve found Bozeman to be a very supportive community in many ways; people are always excited to see something they do in their daily life benefit another person, something as easy as buying a special coffee to benefit education.”
Red Tractor Pizza held coin drives in January as well to collect P4P funds. After the month of working with the Bozeman community, Alanna hopes that they have spread the word about the importance of education and service work.
“Fundraising is part of it, but really it’s about educating kids here about kids overseas who don’t have access to education,” Alanna says. “It’s learning about other cultures and the importance of giving back.”
For more information about the P4P programs, see penniesforpeace.org.