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Eden Hall fundraising effort sets record mark

| Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
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Penny War winners from Danielle Kcehowski’s fourth grade class, Ryan Woods fifth grade class and Laura Gray’s sixth grade class stand with their donation check.

The students at Eden Hall Upper Elementary raised more than $8,000 to help other children in need, setting a new record for student fundraising at Pennies from Heaven.

Students raised $8,355.46 in week-long Penny Wars that ran from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 to give to Pennies from Heaven, beating North Allegheny's Franklin Elementary in student donations.

Pennies from Heaven is a nonprofit that helps families with financial hardships stay with their sick children at the hospital. The foundation helps with food, transportation, child care, overnight stays and other expenses for families in need.

“It's nice because children understand that they're helping other children,” said Pennies from Heaven founder Jon Perry of Eden Hall's efforts. “They really seemed to connect with Pennies.”

Jon and Joni Perry started the foundation after their son, Trevor, was admitted to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh when he was diagnosed with acute lymphocytic leukemia. The Perrys were in an economic position that allowed them to be by their son's bedside through his admission, but they met other parents who were not so fortunate.

To compete in Penny Wars, students brought in pennies to fill jars for their classroom. The class with the most money in pennies at the end of the week won.

However, students were allowed to sabotage other classes by dropping silver coins or dollar bills into their jars, which then would be deducted from the class's penny total.

The students competed against other classrooms in their grade, and the winners were announced at grade-level assemblies on Nov. 11. The winners, who presented the check to the Perrys at their respective assembly, were Danielle Kcehowski's class for fourth grade, Ryan Woods' class in fifth grade and Laura Gray's class in sixth grade.

There were 43 classes at Eden Hall that participated in the fundraiser.

All the money raised went to the charity, but the competitive aspect of the fundraiser served as extra motivation for the kids to give.

“The most incredible part of this is that not only did children empty their piggy banks to donate their own money, many took it a step further and on their own went door-to-door explaining this charity and collecting money,” said Diane Murray, Pennies board member and Pine-Richland parent.

“The goal isn't just to raise money, but to teach kids the importance of giving back to the community.”

They would like to make this an annual outreach event, similar to the Wexford Elementary's Read-a-Thon and Pine-Richland High School's Stuff-a-Bus, Murray said. Another goal to find an organization or corporation that would match their donation, she said.

Rachel Farkas is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-779-6902 or rfarkas@tribweb.com.

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