Pennies for Pencils: Literacy First Charter Schools Raise Nearly $12,000 for Free The Children

November 15, 2012

  • Print
How does a school effectively teach students how each of them can make a positive impact on the global community? Ask Founder and Executive Director Debbie Beyer of Literacy First Charter Schools in San Diego County. In 2012 her students raised $11,800, enough to build not only a school in Ecuador but also a well to provide a sustainable water source through the Free The Children project.
Being responsible community leaders by participating in service opportunities that benefit others is not only a belief at Literacy First Schools but also a project and call to action for every K-12 student and staff member in all Literacy First Schools. From projects ranging from making beanies and scarves for orphans in Tijuana, Mexico to writing letters to veterans and entertaining residents at a nearby convalescent home - every classroom participates in community service. Each school also participates in an annual fundraiser.

For the past few years this fundraiser was known as "Pennies for Pasta" and the proceeds of nearly $10,000 annually was donated to an organization dedicated to fighting leukemia. However, last year after reading Three Cups of Tea, Debbie was inspired to find a project that her students could connect with on a global level. After issuing the challenge to her staff to find such a project, their future mission was found in Free The Children an organization working to ensure that "all young people are free to achieve their fullest potential as agents of change." Craig Keilburger founder of Free The Children, seeks to achieve this by partnering with students who raise funds to establish schools throughout the globe, thereby transforming the communities in which they reside.

Debbie and her team went straight to work creating a video and having assemblies to kick off their fundraising efforts. Students from K-12 were asked to raise at least $6 and one condition was that parents were not allowed to give their children the money. Soon class competitions emerged, especially at the high school level, where such innovative ideas as creating a lunch "club" in which a classroom was turned into a lounge space and passes were sold to students for $2 a piece developed. Coin jars were also used so that students could bring in change, including one student recently immigrated from Sri Lanka, who donated all the money he had, and when asked why replied, "so that students could be as lucky as me and have a school like Literacy First which could teach and take care of them like my school."

At the end of the fundraiser the Literacy First Schools raised nearly $12,000 and the founder of Free the Children graciously thanked the efforts of all students, staff and their families. The school in Ecuador was built and Debbie Beyer along with students and staff are planning a trip to visit the school In March. The trip to Ecuador, in a true community service model will be life altering and not vacation. They plan to roll up their sleeves and assist in building another school that is being developed in a neighboring village.

The Free the Children fundraiser is symbolic of what Debbie Beyer has done with Literacy First Charter Schools, which had its own humble beginnings almost 12 years ago. When passionate, caring and determined individuals come together, what begins as a thought of one school dedicated to educating and nurturing the next generation of community leaders can grow into a larger movement that has an impact on the global community. Debbie already has her calendar marked for the next fundraiser to kick-off April 29, 2013 when they plan to raise another $10,000 or more for an additional school in Ecuador.

Add a comment