Change Will Do Good

More than a ton of coins, 2,093.5 pounds to be exact, were collected in two weeks by students at Gaithersburg Middle School. The amount, totaling $3,432.23, was presented Monday to Operation USO Care Package, which will use the money to purchase goodies that will be given to servicemen and women as they board planes on the way to fight the war on terrorism abroad.

For the fourth year in a row, teams of students competed to see who could raise the most coins for the year's designated charity. Although past collections have raised $600 to $1,300, this year's collection set the record for participation.

This year's incentive was that six members of the winning team would be whisked off via limousine (a donation to the school) to Baltimore-Washington International Airport to distribute care packages to more than 250 members of the Army, Air Force and Marines.

On Tuesday, eighth-graders Aston Brooks, Adrian Brown, Jackie Guandique, Jane Ani, Kathleen Marshal and George Hernandez handed out the packages, which included international phone cards, personal care items, and books and magazines. The students were chosen by their team leader based not only on how much money they contributed, but also on how dedicated they were to the project, part of the school's Character Counts program. Some students spent hours rolling coins, while others found creative ways to raise the money.

Sharon Emond, a physical education teacher at Gaithersburg Middle School for nine years and the organizer of the coin collections, said she was amazed by this year's effort.

"These kids really understand. Whether you agree politically or not, they know they're representing our country and defending our freedom," said Emond, who read some of the more than 250 letters written by students and included in the care packages.

As a thank you, the school will be treated to an assembly presented by members of the U.S. Air Force in the spring.

Students Help S.D. Peers Students in Diane Hazen's seventh-grade social studies class at Green Acres School in Rockville decided to help the children at Pine Ridge Reservation in Wounded Knee, S.D., after studying the area. On Monday, they sent nearly 30 boxes of clothing, toiletries, toys and books.

The students studied the 1890 massacre at Wounded Knee and discovered that it took place on what is now part of the Pine Ridge Reservation, one of the poorest places in the United States. The students collected items for children on the reservation over a two-week period. Mayflower Moving Co. agreed to ship the boxes for free.

Staff writer Alicia Cypress contributed to this report.

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