Rumson school’s Penny Harvest benefits African school, hurricane victims

Give a bunch of kids brown paper bags and empty buckets, and there’s no telling what they might do. In Holy Cross School, Rumson, however, the students filled them with $2,005 worth of loose change.

In early November, Maryjane Gallo, sixth grade teacher and co-founder of the Tawawami Children’s Project, a non-profit organization whose sole purpose is to assist underprivileged developing communities, sent each student home with a small brown paper bag. She asked the children to collect pennies from their piggy banks, cup holders, couch cushions and car seats.

At the end of the month, the children brought their bags back to school and poured the coins into their individual homerooms’ big blue buckets. Several seventh graders, as part of their service commitment for the Sacrament of Confirmation, generously volunteered their time sorting the coins and depositing them in the bank.

The totals revealed the two sixth-grade homerooms did the most penny-pinching, and they were rewarded with an ice cream cake made by their Spanish teacher and baking club instructor Jacqueline Saives. As a whole, the school raised $2,005.

The name of the Tawawami Children’s Project is derived from the Swahili words “Tazama wafungaji na watoto mijini,” meaning “urban and pastoral community.” The Project’s motto stems from a Maasai phrase “Eyamuai Amu Edimai,” meaning “Decide because it is possible.”

The organization began when Gallo spent several months teaching in Tanzania with the Catholic Medical Mission Board, which inspired her to give the outside project the resources needed to provide a better education for the children there.  So the organiztion’s first endeavor was to build a grammar school in the Ilemela District of Mwanza, Tanzania, a goal that has been successfully accomplished.

Now, subsequent funds go to outfitting the school with water, electricity, glass windows and all the necessary tools for learning. The Project’s long-term goal is to build a boarding school to attend to the educational and housing needs of vulnerable and disadvantaged children in Tanzania.

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Because the Penny Harvest took place just after Hurricane Matthew, Holy Cross School wanted to share some of the funds raised with families affected by the storm. Through research, Gallo found St. Frances de Sales Parish, Lumberton, N.C ., that had several displaced parish families who were grateful for the assistance.

Helping Others • Holy Cross students watch the pennies being counted at the bank. Photo courtesy of Holy Cross School

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