Plinky asked me, “What charities do you support, and why?”
Our tiny elementary school participates in a Penny Drive for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital every year. They collected around $200 two years ago. Last year, I noticed that a fellow teacher started collecting her pennies about 2 weeks before the official start. She had them hidden in a jar behind her desk. The nerve.
“Hey, you are such a cheater.” I told her.
“Yeah. What are you going to do with about it?” she replied, smiling like a Cheshire cat.
Well, I went to the office and lodged a formal complaint and asked that her teaching certificate be revoked. I couldn’t let her beat me. She had to go.
So, our principal started a Penny War. Each teacher had to keep a jar out in the hall. Children would add pennies daily, but other students could add silver to the other classes’ jars, which would be bad. For example, a quarter, would take away 25 pennies. We were ready for battle.
Our war brought in $1,300 and warranted a visit from the local newspaper. Our picture was in the paper, and the story detailed how we sabotaged each other. This year we brought in $1,800. And another visit from the newspaper. We were cunning this year. I held war meetings and sent out spies because we knew that teachers were hoarding money in their rooms. We needed to know who to sabotage with our silver.
A teacher who was in fourth place going into week #2, taped a $5 in each of our jars, mocking us. I responded by taping two $5′s in hers. Next thing you know, people were putting $20 bills in jars. If I did my math correctly, that meant that 2,000 pennies had to be subtracted. Yikes! Teachers were reaching for their purses on a daily basis.
Last year, a fellow teacher had her kids come into my room and sing “Happy Birthday,” to me, and then the little shits held up their little bags with silver in it. I think they put $30 worth of silver in my jar that day. Some birthday present. We got her back though.
The kids had a great time at the reveal. The principal had a countdown, and classes were bringing out pennies at the last minute. Silver was being thrown in jars. One first grade class came out in the hall wearing indian headbands (our school mascot is Little Indians) and warpaint. They were ready.
In the end, we made a lot of money for sick children and our students learned that it feels good to give to others. I enjoyed the strategy of the game. Do we go on the offensive or hide and lurk? It was a great time.
I also give to other charities, but the St. Jude’s Penny Wars gets my picture in the paper. And isn’t that what really matters?