Franklin Park students make big difference with small change
The smallest efforts can make the biggest and brightest difference, as students of Franklin Elementary discovered when they raised almost $5,000 this year for the Pennies From Heaven Fund, a local charity that provides financial support to families so parents can stay with patients at Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh of UPMC.
Kindergartners through fifth-graders took part in a one-week fundraiser in February, said Heidi Kern-Moose, chairwoman for community-service programs with the Franklin Elementary Parent Faculty Association.
This is the second year the students at the North Allegheny School District school had a penny-war fundraiser for the organization. They raised $4,947 this year, which beat last year's total of about $4,700.
“It was just an amazing turnout,” said Kern-Moose, who heard about the charity and thought it was something important, as well as a “new and exciting” fundraising opportunity for the children.
The Pennies From Heaven Fund was founded by Joni and Jon Perry when their son, Trevor, was being treated for acute lymphatic leukemia at age 2 at Children's Hospital. While there, Joni Perry said, they noticed that many children were left alone overnight, whether short-term or long-term patients. At first upset about the idea that parents would leave their child alone, the Perrys soon were informed by staff members that some parents unfortunately could not afford to miss work to stay.
This was how the Pennies From Heaven Fund started, Joni Perry said.
“It's a huge need,” she said. “Especially self-employed people — if they don't work, they don't get paid.”
Trevor, now 15, recovered from his leukemia when he was a toddler.
Joni Perry said she thinks Franklin's donation this year is the largest single donation the organization has received from students — elementary to college level.
“To raise that much money, that is really incredible. They're really charitable,” said Joni Perry, 45, of Marshall Township.
To raise the money, each classroom competed against other classrooms in their grades to bring in the most pennies. But they could sabotage other classrooms in their grade by dropping in silver coins or paper money a rival's jar, which counted as a negative amount of that classroom's total. Every grade had a winning classroom.
Kern-Moose, 45, said that by the middle of the week, organizers were pleasantly surprised to see the collection already had raised about $2,500. She said donations included a $50 bills.
The winning classroom in each grade was able to take a break from the regular school day and watch an in-school movie with treats.
And while Kern-Moose, of Franklin Park, said the children loved the competition, it wasn't all about winning.
Her two daughters agreed.
“My class didn't really care if we won or lost. It was good to have the feeling that we made a difference,” third-grader Elizabeth Moose, 9, said.
Students presented a check to the Perrys the week after the competition during an assembly.
Fifth-grader Julia Moose, 11, said that was the most exciting part for all the students because they didn't know how much they raised.
“We were really excited when we heard the final amount,” Julia said. “I hope someday people will realize this is a really good cause.”
Julia said her teacher, Jen Beierle, kept her classroom motivated.
“Everybody was so pumped up during the entire week,” she said.
Kern-Moose said the great support of Principal Jeff Anderchak and the school's teachers and other staff helped keep the children motivated.
Joni Perry said all the money raised goes to the cause.
“We rely on fundraising and donations. And it's hard for us to make money because we're (all) volunteer,” she said.
Overall, the Pennies From Heaven Fund has raised more than $2 million and has helped more than 40,000 families, Joni Perry said.
Because Kern-Moose's younger daughter will be at Franklin for two more years, she said, she hopes to continue the fundraiser for at least that long. And she said, she hopes it hits the $5,000 mark for a year.
Natalie Beneviat is a freelance writer for Trib Total Media.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pine-Richland eighth-grader earns Eagle Scout award
- Highcliff Elementary principal to retire after school year
- ‘Disney’s Beauty and the Beast’ gives Hampton native opportunity to shine
- Business as usual despite Perry Highway work
- Recycling efforts growing at Hampton’s Poff Elementary
- Honorary society for math coming to Shaler Area
- Photo Gallery “Toddler and Preschool Fitness” at the Northland Public Library