HAZARD – A second grade student in Perry County is leading an effort to raise money for a very worthy cause.
Cydney Banks, a seven-year-old student at Dennis Wooton Elementary, and her mother and teacher, Jennifer, recently met before the Perry County Board of Education to request approval for a district fund drive called Mile of Pennies, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Corner Haven homeless shelter in Hazard.
The shelter’s financial troubles came to the fore in the past few months as local officials and community leaders began meeting to discuss ways to raise money for the shelter, which prior to this month had been operating exclusively on an emergency basis due to a lack of funds. Early this month enough funds were donated to re-open the shelter full time, though only through the winter months.
“A few months ago, she kept asking questions about the homeless shelter,” Jennifer explained, noting that was when Cydney’s interest began in doing something to help the shelter. “I told her that the people that stay there have to leave that morning and can’t go back until night. That concerned her.”
Jennifer’s church, the Maple Street Church of God, had been participating in a separate Mile of Pennies effort. A mile of pennies is $844.80. And with a school district that includes 12 schools (counting Buckhorn as two separate schools), if each school could donate a mile of pennies, it would mean that Cydney could raise $10,135 for the shelter.
“She said, ‘Mom wouldn’t it be so good if we could do that?’” Jennifer said.
Cydney and her mother later met with Interim Superintendent Jonathan Jett at the school, where they pitched Cydney’s idea.
“He said that it was just the greatest idea,” Jennifer said, “especially coming from such a young child.”
And since any fundraising requests must go before the school board, Cydney began planning her presentation, which was made Thursday during the board’s regular meeting.
Jennifer read Cydney’s proposal aloud, noting that, “I would like for each school to do a mile of pennies.”
The board responded with a vote of unanimous approval for the fund drive, and also by being the first to donate, with each member personally donating a roll of pennies.
“When she left that board meeting, she was on cloud nine,” Jennifer said. “She knew this was just a really good thing to be doing.”
Cydney plans to keep her drive open through December. Interim Superintendent Jett noted during last week’s meeting that he will send out a district-wide email to each of the schools about the drive and the board’s approval. Cydney will also accept donations from local businesses.
“She’s very giving, and always has been,” Jennifer added. “And it tickled me to death, not only being her teacher, but being her mom.”