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Woodland offers helping holiday hand


Student-led penny, can and bottle drive benefits SnowCap

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Chase Cooper and Lupita Balbuena, both 10, and their fifth-grade class helped lead Woodland Elementary School in a penny, bottle and can drive for SnowCap Community Charities.

A few weeks before Christmas, fifth-grade students at Woodland Elementary School read a story about Alder Elementary School.

The Reynolds school has the second highest poverty rate among Oregon schools. Moved by this fact, the students wanted to act.

“We said, ‘How can we help?’” Chase Cooper said.

But they knew Alder was already being helped by the “I Have a Dream” Oregon Foundation, so they looked at broader ways to help their community.

Chase, 10, and Lupita Balbuena, 10, helped lead their class in researching SnowCap Community Charities. They decided hosting a penny, can and bottle drive could help benefit the nonprofit organization.

They were particularly moved that SnowCap serves 8,000 people a month and relies on more than 1,000 volunteers each year.

After laying out their plan during a meeting with Principal Michael Clutter, students quickly mobilized. They made posters and classroom announcements.

They gathered supplies to collect pennies and pop cans. And they emptied piggy banks and offered their allowance money.

On Friday, Dec. 20, “pajama spirit day” at Woodland, students gathered all of their cans and collections in the school’s lobby. They hadn’t yet counted the donations, but felt pleased with the results: eight bags of cans and bottles and a jug partially filled with money.

“It’s an unusual situation because normally a penny drive is staff run,” said fifth-grade teacher Celeste Dryer. “This is entirely student run. It’s only going to be four days of collecting, but they will know they did their part.”

by: OUTLOOK PHOTO: JIM CLARK - Woodland fifth-graders were moved by an article about Alder Elementary School's high poverty rate and wanted to put together a project to help their community before the holidays.