They are forgotten in drawers, pockets, boxes and piles – but now 8-year-old Saeda Rose Macdonald of Dunster wants you to take your pennies and put them towards helping schools in rural Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“I hope the schools can get some money and buy some more stuff,” she says. “A pencil only costs one penny.”
Despite her own school having to raise money to keep its doors open, Saeda says some schools can only afford to have a teacher come once a week. It costs just over $1 a day for a teacher in Pakistan. Her goal of 50,000 pennies would provide for the annual salary of a teacher. Two pennies will buy an eraser, and 15 pennies buys a notebook.
Saeda was inspired after she and her mom Shara Gustafson started reading “Three Cups of Tea,” a true story about a man named Greg Mortensen who travelled to Pakistan to climb K2, a mountain more dangerous to ascend than Mount Everest. He got lost and ended up in a village, where the people there took care of him. He witnessed the children drawing in the sand because they had no building and no supplies. He vowed to return and build a school for them.
One of the first donations to his cause was from a group of school children in Wisconsin who donated over 60,000 pennies, which translates to more than $600. He needed more than that for a school, but it was the first step in achieving his dream.
Pennies for Peace is now a program that encompass thousands of schools and tens-of-thousands of students around the world.
Saeda has decorated several jars, which she is going to put on display at the Dunster General Store, as well as in stores in Valemount and McBride. She hopes to raise $500, or 50,000 pennies, which she and her mom will have the job of counting. She isn’t sure how many jars she will need to fill in order to attain her goal. As it is, she struggles to lift the 1 gallon jar, which is about a quarter full of pennies collected from her family.
If you have pennies you’d like to donate, drop by the Dunster General Store, Infinity in Valemount or Odds and Ends in McBride.