When Garden City Elementary School Physical Education teacher Karen Humes presented her students with a Penny War challenge, she had no idea the overwhelming response she'd receive, all to benefit the victims of Hurricane Sandy. Her version of the Penny Wars added an additional level of competition for the classes."Each classroom had their own jar, and the goal was to fill theirs with as many pennies as possible," said Humes. "The pennies counted as positive points, but if another classroom put silver or paper money into a classroom's jar, they counted as negative points and brought their score down.”
Humes opted to run the Penny Wars in this fashion so that anyone could participate, even if by bringing in only pennies.
"Every penny counted, and everybody could participate," Humes said.
The Penny Wars lasted for one week. At the end of the week, the jars were overflowing. Humes could not believe her eyes as she loaded up carts to bring the jars to the store to be converted to bigger bills.
"When I got to the change machine there were people in line near me, five patrons: one elderly person and four college guys," she said. "They saw what I was doing, and they literally started emptying their pockets. They were so inspired by what the students had done, they wanted to help, too."
In total, the school collected $1,650 during their penny wars.
"We collected over 93,000 pennies in the end, plus the rest of the change."
Humes had promised a big reward for the winning classroom, and now has to make good on it for the entire school, given the overwhelming response to the challenge.
"I had promised the classroom with the most points at the end of the fundraiser an extra physical education class, but I'd also said that if the whole school raised $1,000, then every class would earn an extra physical education class."
Humes said it would take her until January to fit in all of the extra physical education classes for the entire school.