Scenario: How 'Nickels for Nails' Makes Cents

Ms. James teaches a kindergarten class of 20 kids. On the morning of Monday, April 19th, she brings the kids some news.

"There's an organization that needs our help collecting coins for kids just like you who need better houses. If we raise the most money, we get to have a pizza party in May! Do you all want to help?"

"YEEESSSS, MS. JAAAAAMES!" the students respond hungrily.

Ms. James then gives each of her students a jar which they decorate to their liking and bring home to their parents, urging them to take the jars to work and collect nickels for the other kids who need homes. Ms. James also sends home with the kids a letter explaining the charity they are engaging in: an organization named Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles would like your family's help in collecting nickels to buy nails for the sake of fundraising to build one house for a low-income family who needs it.

Mom and Dad bring their jars to work and sit them on their desks or in the lunch rooms. Some parents even go the extra mile and bring in one of those huge water cooler jugs with a big poster beside it saying "GIVE YOUR CHANGE TO HELP BUILD A HOUSE FOR A LOW-INCOME FAMILY!

A few parents go the extra, extra mile and ask Aunt Phylis and Uncle Steve to take up collections at their jobs. Grandma and Grandpa contribute their own coins, too.

The donations start to roll in. As 28 days pass, approaching Ms. James' deadline of May 13th, Mom and Dad's jars are both halfway filled to the brim. Eagerly, their sons and daughters inquire daily about the progress and encourage their parents to donate as much as they can themselves.

One day, Ms. James brings in her own jar of nickels and it's already filled up. She sits it on her desk. The students are in awe, but boast about how much money they've already collected themselves. Suddenly, Ms. James makes an offer to her lively students:

"We're going to have our own class contest. Whoever collects the most coins by themselves gets an extra star on the 'Good Deeds' chart. And you know what that means..."

Calamity ensues with the thought of whatever prize would be won if they get enough stars. The students get home that day, and light a fire under their parents.

"Mom! Dad! We'll get a pizza party AND I'll get a 'Good Deed' star! We've got to do better!"

Mom and Dad are obliged. "Okay...okay. We'll put in a few dollars at the end before we turn the jars in."

It's now Thursday morning, May 13th, and the kids carry in their jars, bags, jugs and other containers full of nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills. They write their name in permanent marker on each jar they brought.

"I'm going to count up each of your jars and tell you the winner on Monday," Ms. James says.

While HFH GLA deadline is on Saturday, May 15, Ms. James gets together as many of her co-workers as possible to tally each kids coinage. After they determine a winner from the class, she consolidates each jar into a few large jugs and takes the coins to Habitat for Humanity in Gardena (If Ms. James' school was in another city, she could take her coins to the bank and have them exchanged for cash without a fee).

And voila...Ms. James' kindergarten class has multi-handedly donated at least $420 to the HFH GLA Nickels for Nails youth program. That's in the worst scenario when each kid's family had only 1 co-worker donate $1, and the parents and family put in only $15 total. Chances are that pizza-minded kids will raise much more than that especially with parents' assistance. One 5-gallon water cooler jug of coins could range from $1,000 to $3,000 depending on how many nickels you have in there versus quarters and dollars (the more dollars, the more money).

Educators: Call on your students to participate for the sake of other students and their families who need a safer, more affordable home to live in. This opportunity to drive your kids towards giving and sharing, even if it's for the mere fact that they're being rewarded, will build a sense of humility in the long run for them.

The Habitat for Humanity of Greater Los Angeles 'Nickels for Nails' Youth Program starts on Sunday, April 18. It takes about $150,000 to build a Habitat home. Make a change with your change!

(Don't laugh at my artwork! It was an effort! Lol. - Christina, the Intern)

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