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WE Day project brings change

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Young people can make a difference.

That’s a message students at Maple Lane Public School in Tillsonburg have learned while working on several projects and campaigns with Free The Children since the fall.

The most recent campaign, entitled We Create Change, saw students at Maple Lane collect thousands of pennies in a penny drive to help provide clean water in developing countries around the world.

“One of our Junior Kindergarten students donated his entire piggy bank to We Create Change,” said Grade 1 teacher Debbie Gibson, organizer of the campaign. “It was his little life savings.”

For the past few years, students at Maple Lane Public School have worked together to help make a difference both locally and globally, participating in several campaigns and activities with Free The Children organization, headed up by Canadian co-founder, Craig Kielburger.

In doing so, they have earned tickets to the annual WE Day event held in Toronto.

“In the fall we did the We Scare Hunger campaign, and we gathered hundreds of pounds of food. Then we did the We Are Silent campaign (in April), where the kids raised over a $1,000 and that money goes to children in the world who don’t have a voice,” said Gibson.

Maple Lane’s We Create Change campaign raised more than $250.

“They said they’re using the penny because it was going out of circulation and their focus this year was on clean water. So they created the penny campaign and one bag of pennies will provide someone with clean water for the rest of their life.”

Anyone who would like to donate pennies to the project can do so at partner Royal Bank of Canada and give their pennies for the We Create Change campaign with Free The Children.

“Anybody can do it if they have pennies at home and they want to donate them, they can take it into RBC.”

Grade 6 student Lauren Rice said she and her classmates think the campaign is a good thing for young people to get involved in.

“I think it is helping because we are donating lots of money to people that are less fortunate to have money to be able to pay for food, clothing and clean water,” said Rice. “I think it is a good idea to be able to help with all these people that don’t have enough money. I’m happy to be working on it so young so I can help more people in my future.”

Every penny counts and every penny can make a difference.

“One child collected $25 in pennies all on his own, a couple of the kids who went to the We Day were putting pennies in the bags the whole time we were there, and then kids would bring me pennies, and one student dropped off one penny today because they found it on the ground and wanted to donate it,” added Gibson. “It was whatever amount they felt moved to give.

“I’m beyond proud of them, it just is an incredible thing to see. I think it’s important they develop a global conscience because they think that over in Africa, it doesn’t really affect them, but they are seeing that the world is small and what happens over there has an impact over here, and we from over here can have an impact over there.

“We all have things that we need to work on, but we can help others as well.”

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