Today’s news:

Bayside kids bag $800 in pennies for charity

A group of 13 students on the student council at Bayside’s PS 159 have realized the value of helping others at an early age after they handed off more than $800 in pennies to a neighborhood bank last week in an effort to aid people afflicted with leukemia and lymphoma.

The students, all in fourth− or fifth−grade, delivered eight bags filled with pennies to Bayside’s TD Bank, at 216−10 Northern Blvd., last Thursday. The project, which began in late January and lasted for two weeks, was an opportunity for students to be able to help people in need in their community, said student council advisor Allison Myers.

“It makes them aware of helping others and gives them responsibility,” she said. “It builds pillars of character.”

The school’s Pennies for Patients drive collected the pennies for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Myers said.

The students collected a total $825 in pennies and an additional $400 in cash, a bank spokesman said.

At last week’s dropoff, the students poured their bags of pennies into a large machine at the bank called the Penny Arcade. The machine then counts the deposited money, said Margaret Zarzana−Vitale, the bank’s manager.

PS 159 students said they thought the drive was a good reminder that many people in their own community are in need of help.

“If you donate money, you could be helping someone in your family or someone you know,” said fifth−grader Chris Baker, 11, of Bayside.

Myers said the students also take part each year in a Penny Harvest, during which they collect pennies to donate to a city charity. In return, the students receive a $1,000 grant and then decide on an organization, such as Habitat for Humanity or St. Mary’s Children, to which they will donate, she said.

The Penny Harvest is in its ninth year at the school, Principal Marlene Zucker said.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e−mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 156.

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