La Vista Middle School students participate in Penny Wars to raise money for cancer research. Homeroom classes decorated their donation boxes, which were displayed from 7:30 to 8 a.m. Feb. 24–28.

There’s a war brewing in La Vista Middle School, but no matter which team prevails, they are all winners.

From Feb. 24 through Feb. 28, students at La Vista Middle School participated in Penny Wars, a longtime student council- sponsored tradition aimed at raising money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, a charitable organization whose mission is to cure leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin’s disease and melanoma while improving the quality of life of patients and their families.

Throughout the week, the 33 advisory classes (homerooms) worked to collect as many pennies as possible in their decorative donation box. Pennies were positive points and silver coins were negative points.

Students could sabotage other classes by putting silver coins or dollars in competing boxes, all while still raising money for the organization.

For example, if a class had 100 pennies, but someone puts in one quarter, they are down to 75 points.

The class with the most pennies will receive an Olive Garden lunch while a team (which is made up of a group of advisories), will win a movie and popcorn day.

Deb Allen and Lisa Bowlin, who are student council cosponsors, supervised the fundraiser and said they are proud of their students’ hard work.

“My favorite part, aside to see them fighting for a cause, is just to see them rally together. The competition gets them excited to bring more,” Allen said.

She is also happy to see student council members take control of Penny Wars.

“It’s amazing to me when we get together and we tell them what we’re doing and they just take over the meeting,” Allen said. “They come together and really want to do things for the school and the community.”

The school’s goal is to raise a total of $1,000, and if it meets the goal, the whole school will be rewarded by watching its principal, Jen Carson, get pie thrown in her face at the next school assembly.

“Some of them are really hyped to make that happen,” Bowlin said. “I hope we get to do that.”

While the competition is a fun way to get students involved, Bowlin said she and Allen remind students the real reason they are raising money.

“For student council, it’s important to us that they are fighting for that cause. We tell the kids, these are young patients and they are kids just like you,” Bowlin said.

“They can put themselves into someone else’s shoes and not forget that’s what we are fighting for.”

Penny Wars, Bowlin said, are a fun and easy way to get every student involved.

“That’s why it works, because change is accessible. It’s something they can do and all families can give back in some small but big way,” she said.

“They can be everyday heroes just by bringing in those pennies and dimes.”

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