Today’s news:

A penny goes a long way around here

An “easily forgotten” copper coin was transformed into a “powerful tool for youth action and service” when Public School 197 presented the fruits of its Penny Harvest fundraising labors to seven community service organizations.

Big−hearted students, who collected $1,250 in pennies for the annual Common Cents collection drive, were rewarded with a $1,000 philanthropic grant by the not−for−profit organization, which they awarded to charities of their choice during a ceremony at the school, 1599 East 22nd Street.

The recipients were: B’nai Raphael Chesed Organization, Sunrise Day Camp, Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, St. Vincent’s Services, Care For The Homeless, New York Foundling and Little Shelter.

In addition students also made a service project check presentation to some groups – the result of a letter−writing campaign, requesting arts and crafts supplies from area businesses in addition to organizing a book drive by reaching out to the school community for donations of new or gently used books.

The students were part of a collective of beneficiaries, comprised of tens of thousands of students and supportive adults who organize local Common Cents collection drives that use the neglected resource into ready−to−use funds for their communities. After the pennies have been converted into dollars, the money is then turned into deeds through the leadership of the Roundtable Philanthropy program.

During the 200708 school year, almost a half million children from 785 New York City schools took part in the Penny Harvest, collecting $656,755.23 in pennies. After months of research and study, more than 9,000 children sitting on 606 Philanthropy Roundtables made 1,513 monetary grants to non−profits, such as women’s shelters, animal rights organizations, community gardens and senior centers, and carried out 345 Neighborhood Service projects.

“Every penny collected went back to the community,” according to Common Cents, which specializes in creating and managing service−learning programs for young people. It was founded in 1991 by playwright Teddy Gross to create opportunities for young people of all ages and backgrounds to develop and express their need to contribute to their communities.

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