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PS 186 collects $2,000 at its first Penny Harvest

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The students at the Bellerose school were presented with a framed photo...

By Adam Kramer

The Castlewood School — PS 186 — was honored at a school assembly Friday by the Roslyn Savings Bank for its efforts in raising more than $2,000 during the school’s Penny Harvest.

The students at the Bellerose school were presented with a framed photo montage and two proclamations — one for the students and one for the principal and coordinating teacher — for all their hard work to raise money for charity at a school assembly.

“It started out as a low-key thing, collecting pennies,” said John Holst, the school’s principal. “Then a student, Jacqueline Murphy, talked to her father about what they were doing and he donated 485 piggy banks.”

Holst said the banks caused a “ground swell” and the children became motivated about raising money for charity. Jacqueline’s father also arranged for the Roslyn Savings Bank, where he works, to make a matching donation if the students raised $1,000, he said.

The Castlewood School at 252-12 72nd Ave. is made up of pre-kindergarten to fifth-graders from Bellerose, Glen Oaks and North Shore Towers.

“We have had a fabulous reaction to the Penny Harvest and hopefully it will become a tradition at the school,” said Ronald Lebenson, a fifth-grade teacher and adviser to student government. “The money was then sent to Common Cents and the children decided how to allocate it.”

Common Cents is a non-profit organization founded in 1991 by Teddy Gross to develop fund-raising opportunities for children to contribute to their communities.

According to Common Cents, thousands of teachers organize local penny drives to turn pennies, a “neglected resource, into ready-to-use funds for the benefit of their communities.”

Lebenson said the student government, made up of first- to fifth-grade students, decided to donate $333 to Ronald McDonald House in New Hyde Park; $333 to Long Island Jewish Hospital; $334 to SNAP in Jamaica, which would use the money for Meals on Wheels; and $1,000 to the school, which would use the money to start an early morning program for students who arrive before class.

He said the children also received another $500 from a grant through Common Cents and decided to donate the money to the Parker Geriatric Institute to buy large-print library books.

“It is important to help people without homes get places to live,” said Jacqueline Murphy, a 10-year-old fifth-grader, about the school’s fund-raising effort.

She said that even though she graduates this year and will attend MS 172 in the fall, she hopes to start up the same type of fund-raising event at her new school.

When asked what PS 186 students thought of the piggy banks her father donated, she said, “they were happy and excited. They thought it was cool.”

“Even the adults wanted them,” one of Jacqueline’s teachers said.

Dan Murphy, Jacqueline’s father and vice president of Roslyn Bank, said the Penny Harvest is a wonderful program that teaches kids about civic responsibility and charity.

“The bank thanks you for your efforts,” he told the assembly. “We want to impress on you the good work you have done to help people at Parker read a book and Jamaica SNAP provide a warm meal.”

Reach reporter Adam Kramer by e-mail at Timesledgr@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 157.

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