Schoolchildren collect pennies for peace

What are pennies good for? Well, a lot as it turns out.

Thanks to a Pennies for Peace drive in local schools, those unwanted coins will go toward building schools for young girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Del Mar Hills, Del Mar Heights and Solana Vista School spent the last three months collecting pennies for the Del Mar chapter of Kids for Peace. Kids for Peace is a national organization that seeks to involve children in peace-building, cross-cultural experiences with hands-on arts, service and environmental projects.

In October, the local chapter’s challenge was to get Pennies for Peace into local elementary schools. Thanks to Solana Vista staff, Dolphin Leadership at Del Mar Heights and Hills librarian Tamara Radford, the chapter was successful, and children brought in all the pennies they could possibly find.

The Hills even had a competition between grades with the fourth-graders winning by far. An official count of the pennies wasn’t due from the bank for a couple of weeks.

“We were really fortunate we had three schools willing to participate because it wasn’t easy for them to do,” McGuire said.

The McGuire’s driveway, full of bags of pennies, looked as though a giant piggy bank had been emptied out. In fact, that was the way a lot of children came up with their contributions — some gave up their entire allowance, up to $100 in one case.

“The kids did great,” said Hills parent Juli Oh.

Just one penny buys a pencil and it was easy for the children to understand what they were giving for others and how their money could go a long way, Oh said.

Second-grader Lila Browne said she hopes her pennies from her piggy bank will help buy notebooks, pencil eraser tops, pencil cases, markers and “lots of Crayons.”