by Lucy Medvec
Spare change may not seem like a lot of money at first, but when over 1,000 Shreveport Catholic school students work together, their coins can truly “change” lives in the community.
During Catholic Schools Week in January, students from Loyola College Prep, St. John Berchmans School, and St. Joseph School collected over $2,660 for Catholic Charities of North Louisiana through their “Coins for Change” drives that were held at each school. Classes within each school competed against each other to collect the most change with Loyola’s sophomores, St. John’s 4th graders, and two Pre-K4 classes at St. Joseph School, emerging as coin champions. All funds raised from the coin drives will go towards CCNLA’s Emergency Assistance Program which assists families with the payment of their rent or utility bills in order to avoid eviction or shut-off of utilities.
While Loyola and St. John students participated in straightforward coin collections, St. Joseph School took it up a notch by participating in a school-wide “Penny War.” The premise was that pennies were worth positive points, while silver coins and paper money were negative points. The class with the most positive points would be the winner, so students would donate their negative points (money) to the other classes in order to diminish their totals. According to Greg Beauclair, Development and Marketing Director for St. Joseph School, the Penny War brought out the competitive side of SJS students.
“We had collected a total of $600 through Thursday,” said Beauclair, “but on Friday, the students had doubled that total with their donations. Everyone was waiting until the end to see who would win.”
The Pre-K4 classes at St. Joseph School donated over 7200 pennies alone, with well over 20,000 pennies collected from all three schools during the week.
Lucy Medvec, Director of Development and Communications for Catholic Charities likes the idea of student coin drives because “it shows students that if everyone gives some amount of money, no matter how much, it all goes together to create a greater impact.”
Medvec hopes to make the “Coins for Change” drive an annual part of Catholic Schools Week and to include students from schools throughout the diocese. Local restaurants Raising Cane’s and Rotolo’s Pizzeria donated prizes for the winning classes, but overall the winners of the coin drive will be the clients who benefit from the students’ generosity.