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Million-penny deadline draws near

Bags full of coins are poured into large barrels, as Perham 5th graders work toward their May 1 goal of collecting a million pennies.

The deadline for pennies is May 1, and unless the pennies start falling from heaven, Perham fifth-graders are probably going to fall short of their million penny goal.

Even if they don't reach their objective, they have still raised an impressive amount of money for their school and for charity.

Current total is over 310,000 pennies--or more than $3,000.

The "penny project" in Kelly Collette's fifth grade classroom is a class lesson in working with "big numbers," like millions, billions and trillions. The excercise helps students grasp the concept of a million, said fifth grade teacher Kelly Collette.

"We would appreciate any support community members could give us," said Collette, in one of her last pleas as the countdown to May 1 begins."

"If every person in Perham donated just one dollar, it would add over 200,000 pennies to our total."

Penny collection containers are still at many local businesses. If you want one and don't have one, please call Collette at 346-1700 during the school day and leave a message. Or feel free to put out a container, said Collette.

Here are some of the penny-raising activities that have been going on:

•Each kindergartener at Heart of the Lakes elementary brought in 100 pennies for the hundredth day of school, and when they were done with their activities, they donated all of their pennies to the project.

•At the elementary school carnival, a contest was held to guess how many candies were in a large container. (50 cents per guess), which raised over $41. Winner of the candy was April Schultz from Fargo.

•In March, the four fifth grade classes held a contest to see which homeroom could bring in the most money in one month. Ms. Collette's homeroom won with 9,445 pennies. The combined total from all the classes was 25,576 pennies.

•If you are saving pennies at home or work, please either call Collette to pick them up or drop them off at Prairie Wind Middle School on May 1.

•The high school student council is planning a penny war at their school to help out.

•United Community Bank has supported the project in several ways. They donated $50 in pennies at the beginning. Employees recently held a penny war, which netted over 15,000 pennies. They also donated items for a Yellowjacket gift basket that the 5th graders will be raffling off. The gift basket raffle will include a fleece blanket donated by Melody Scott, two bleacher seat cushions, a water bottle, and other goodies.

"The bank also cheerfully changes all of our non-penny donations back into pennies every week or two, so we actually see the level rise in our classroom barrels," said Collette.