BREA : School Banks on Many Pennies Coming From Many Hands

Children at Mariposa Elementary School poured hundreds of pennies into a 6-foot-4-inch piggy bank unveiled Friday by parent volunteers who built it as part of an effort to raise a million cents.

"This is really neat," said 7-year-old Courtney Perkins, after emptying a pink container full of pennies into the wood-and-plexiglass bank, being called the "mint monument."

"When we're done, it'll be like getting a whole new school," the first-grader said.

Or at least new playground equipment.

Parent Dottie Lane said the goal is to raise $10,000 for new swings, slides and monkey bars, unless the county bankruptcy forces cuts in school programs or teachers. If that happens, she said, the money will be used to keep the programs or employees.

The rectangular-shaped bank, designed by parent Craig Kuboyama to hold exactly 1 million pennies, will be wheeled from class to class until it's full.

Students, their parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors and teachers have been gathering pennies since October and already have about 250,000 in the bank, which was built by parent Jerry Holzinger.

The Brea Mall donated about $150 worth in pennies from its water fountain. Other businesses are also collecting pennies for the school.

PTA President Donna Prince, who came up with the fund-raising idea, said the project also serves as a lesson for students.

"We're tying it in to our math lessons and teaching the kids about the value of money," Principal Eileen Moore said. "This project is teaching a lot about responsibility, teamwork and school spirit."

The principal praised parents for creating the project and getting the community involved.

"A lot of people want to help schools but don't know how," Moore said. "This way, everyone can help and know that every cent counts."

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