Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Daily Aztec (10-31-07)

Daily Aztec
San Diego State University, CA
Pennies add up
By Shanee Warden - Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2007

In 1833, a penny could buy a newspaper. In 1950, a penny could buy a piece of candy. In 2007, a penny can help build a new school.

San Diego State 's Mortar Board raised $6,000 - the equivalent of 600,000 pennies - to help pay for half the cost of a school in either Pakistan or Afghanistan .

Mortar Board's Pennies for Peace project made its goal in June of this year. The campaign collected about 300,000 pennies and other forms of cash. Jane Smith, assistant vice president of academic services, said many people donated dollar bills, dimes and nickels.

With so many coins and dollar bills, sorting the donations was a hefty task, but the SDSU Bookstore and Aztec Shops helped out.

"We had to put all the pennies on a dolly to take them from my office," Smith said.

Smith said they received a letter saying that donations would help to build a school in either Pakistan or Afghanistan - which country it will be is currently unknown.

"One penny can buy a pencil in Pakistan or Afghanistan ," Smith said. "Every penny makes a difference."

Samantha Spilka, former president of Mortar Board, made the Pennies for Peace project a reality at SDSU in February. Penny collecting containers were set up in a variety of places, including fraternity houses, student service offices and the library.

Spilka, who graduated from SDSU and is attending Columbia University , got the idea of the penny project from the book "Three Cups of Tea" by Greg Mortenson.

The program is a part of the Central Asia Institute, an organization founded by Mortenson, which encourages education in Pakistan and Afghanistan .

Henry Janssen, professor emeritus and the adviser to honors council, said SDSU chose "Three Cups of Tea" as its book for next year. Mortenson will be on campus to talk about the book.

Janssen said the next pennies project will be with the San Diego Public Library and hopefully include San Diego city schools.

"The San Diego schools could raise $12,000 to fund one whole school," Janssen said.

The project is supposed to start collecting pennies in January 2008.

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