By Bonnie Adams, Managing Editor
Westborough – We all have it – spare change. Pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters, just tossed into our bags, jars at home, and in our cars. Sometimes we roll it up and deposit it into banks, other times it just collects. But recently, the students at the Sarah W. Gibbons Middle School in Westborough put all of their spare change to a very good use. And thanks to that, children fighting cancer, including one of their own classmates, will benefit.
As the school year finally draws to a close, extended this year because of numerous snow days, teacher Brian Paulhus wanted to find a way to keep the attention of his students. Thus was born the idea of the “Penny Wars” contest.
A large container was placed in each of the school’s homerooms into which, over the course of a week, students deposited their spare change. Paper currency was also accepted, of course, but to make it interesting, positive points were assigned to coins and negative points were assigned to dollar bills.
“There were two winning classes at the end, “ Paulhus said. “Mrs. [Karolyn] Choate’s class won for best point total and my class won for most money collected.”
Although Paulhus had his students estimate the overall amount collected by the school, to truly determine the exact total, he knew, would take some time. Fortunately, Marlborough Savings Bank offered to help. The bank’s headquarters on Granger Boulevard in Marlborough has an automatic fast counting machine so after the contest was over, Paulhus and fellow teacher Brian Jones loaded all the jars into their cars and brought them to the bank.
Inna Voloshina , the bank’s manager, said they were very happy to help out the school’s effort.
“We really feel a commitment to our members and host various events to help them. So we were happy to waive the fee today for the school and let them use this machine for this project,” she said.
Along with Teller Supervisor Cassie Kelly, Voloshina helped the two teachers feed the coins into the machine. When all monies, coins and bills, were finally tallied, the amount was $2,800.
All of those funds would be donated to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, Paulhus said.
Donating to that hospital had special meaning, he said, because a Gibbons student is currently undergoing treatment there. He added that several small jars had been left behind at the school – monies in those containers would be donated to the student’s family.
“We know there can be so many other extra expenses families have to deal with like tolls, parking and getting something to eat when their child goes in for treatment,” he said. “We hope this will help them out a bit.”
“Everyone has been just great,” he noted. “Our principal, Jack Foley, supported us totally. The staff really got behind this. And Marlborough Savings Bank has helped with whatever we needed.”
“But the students, and their families, deserve so much credit,” he added. “They have really rallied behind the [ailing] student and wanted to help her. It’s amazing how much was raised in just a week. I can’t say enough about them.”