GREAT FALLS – Mother and son, Lori and James Hanke, volunteer at the Grace Home in Great Falls, which is a place for homeless veterans, but James didn’t want to stop there.
He wanted to find a way for his entire school to get involved and help the homeless.
James’ mother went to the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) asking how to get the whole school involved.
There were ideas for the kids to make cards and bring in toiletries, but in the end the PTA decided on top of doing that, a penny war between the entire school would be the best way for the students to have fun and raise money at the same time.
PTA Secretary Kelle Alt said a penny war would be a friendly competition between the grades.
The penny war started on October 1st and ended on October 5th.
According to the PTA, this is how it worked: Pennies and dollars were worth points (1 point per cent) in your grades jar, which adds to your total. Silver coins were also worth points, but they took away from a grade total (again 1 point per cent), so you wanted to put those in the other grades to take away from them. PTA went around daily and picked up from each classroom.
James Hanke said, “Me and my mom started feeding the homeless and it just filled my heart up with joy. I thought if we had other people to help us, maybe we could raise more money, which we definitely did.”
He added, “I would like to tell everybody to if you have spare time, just to go help people.”
PTA president Jen Bostick said, “I think kids sometimes when we do the fundraisers, especially something like this, being able to see somebody come and actually talk about where the money is actually going, for them it gives them perspective this really is happening. It also might make them a little more aware and open-minded to other agencies’, not just the Grace Home, but everywhere in town that needs help.”
In five short days, Chief Joseph Elementary students raised a total of $1,256.78, which was presented to the Grace Home at an assembly Wednesday for World Homeless Day.
World Homeless Day is held every year on October 10th.
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News