Gentry Middle School students collect cents for Haiti earthquake

Friday, February 5, 2010 | 12:00 p.m. CST; updated 12:18 p.m. CST, Friday, February 5, 2010
From left, Ellen Bromstedt, Reilly Long, Morgan Shellady, Eugy Ngassi and Chavez Coz hold the "pop jars" they created for the penny wars competition at Gentry Middle School.

By the numbers

$.01 = the value of a penny

4 = the number of “pop jars”

6 = the number of student teams

10 = the number of days the competition lasted

$257.38 = the amount of money one team raised

$514.76 = the amount that resulted when a parent matched the previous number

750 = the approximate number of students at Gentry Middle School

$1,108.66 = the amount that the “pop jar” team raised

$3,549.07 = the total amount raised

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As concerned citizens across the nation are contributing to the Haiti earthquake relief, Gentry Middle School is making its own contribution, pennies at a time.

The school held a “penny wars” competition from Jan. 19-29 to raise money for the American Red Cross. The students raised $3,549.07 in about two weeks, said Katherine Sasser, a seventh-grade social studies teacher at Gentry.

Six teams — three from the sixth grade and three from the seventh grade — took part in the competition.

One of the teams even originated the idea of having four “pop jars,” each labeled with a different musician: Taylor Swift, Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga. With the "pop jars," pennies showed approval of the artist and other coins and bills showed a dislike. This team alone raised $1,108.66.

“All the boys hated Justin Bieber because all the girls love him," Sasser said. "So the boys gave him larger coins and bills. And Taylor Swift ended up winning.”

Parents got involved in the competition too; Susan Reynolds, the parent of one Gentry student, matched a team donation of $257.38 to yield a total of $514.76.

Another incentive for team participation was the promise of a “hat day” for the winning teams from both grades, said Principal Janice Morris.

“Since we can’t give our time by going to Haiti, we can give our money,” Sasser said.

“This is the first natural disaster outside our borders that most of these kids are in tune with, so I wanted them to learn about having empathy and compassion.”

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