Schaefer helps kids pile up pennies

THANKS A MILLION, GOVERNOR

goal is $10,000

April 30, 1994|By Anne Haddad | Anne Haddad,Sun Staff Writer

With school honchos from all over Maryland pressing him for millions of dollars, how could Gov. William Donald Schaefer say no to two fourth-graders who asked him for just a penny?

The 394 students at Charles Carroll Elementary School are trying to raise a million pennies. They want to see what a million of something looks like, and they want the resulting $10,000 to buy computers and books for the school's library.

The incremental, grass-roots fund-raising approach caught the governor's attention about six weeks ago, when he received letters from fourth-graders Angela Toth and Tiffany Ellison.

"Anything that's a little innovative, a little different" attracts his attention, Mr. Schaefer said yesterday when he visited the school in Union Mills and donated nearly 20,000 pennies. He contributed 5,000 of them, and the rest were raised by Cabinet members and their staffs.

"Writing to the governor, asking for money -- everybody does that," Mr. Schaefer said. But to ask for a penny, well, that doesn't happen every day. "I never really thought about how many

pennies it took to make a million."

So the governor brought the girls' letters to one of his Thursday Cabinet meetings and enlisted the aid of his appointees.

When Mr. Schaefer came to Charles Carroll yesterday, William A. Fogle, the secretary of licensing and regulation, came with him and pulled a red wagon full of pennies into the school library.

The governor spoke to the students over the public address system and was interviewed by fourth-grader Stephanie Landsman for the school newspaper, Chipmunk Biz.

Stephanie asked Mr. Schaefer whether he would like to be president.

"No," the governor said. "It's an awesome task. Every word he utters, everyone is listening to and trying to interpret."

Later, Mr. Schaefer chatted with the fourth-graders and commended the students for raising money for the school.

"The state and county can only provide so much money for education," he said.

He also told the students about living in a mansion that has 54 rooms and three chefs.

"It's like living in a hotel. You know you're only going to be there a short time. I'm beginning to pack up my stuff to move out," said the governor, whose time in office ends in January.

Charles Carroll's fourth-grade teachers had made a writing lesson out of the penny campaign and had asked students to write letters to celebrities requesting small contributions.

Angela and Tiffany chose independently to write the governor because he has a job they would like to have when they grow up.

"There are a lot of laws I'd like to pass," Tiffany said.

"I'd just like to be governor," Angela said.

Tiffany also wrote to country singer Reba McEntire, who hasn't replied. Singers Billy Ray Cyrus and Janet Jackson have sent donations and autographed photos to the school.

Teachers at Charles Carroll devised the penny project after reading in an educational journal about a school in Florida that did it, said Jane Kacmarski, a language arts teacher.

With the gubernatorial donation, the school now has about 280,000 pennies. The goal is to raise the money by June 1995, but Ms. Kacmarski said it might take longer.

The students say they won't stop until they have reached their goal of a million pennies.

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