Cedar Lane parents seek pennies

October 23, 1994|By Lan Nguyen | Lan Nguyen,Sun Staff Writer

An article in Sunday's Howard County Sun about Cedar Lane School's penny fund-raising projects misidentified the bank accepting donations for the school. First National Bank, the school's business partner, is accepting donations.

* The Sun regrets the error.

Parents at Cedar Lane School are asking for help in their penny collection drive to buy badly needed equipment for the 65 severely disabled students who attend the school.

Parents at the school hope to collect 400,000 pennies -- $4,000 -- to buy such items as computer keyboards that have pictures instead of letters and a specially designed corner chair that helps students sit upright with the use of fabric fastener straps.


"The better we can position a child, the better they can learn," said Principal Nicholas Girardi.

Such specially designed chairs and other mobile equipment can cost as much as $1,000 apiece. Parents also are holding other fund-raisers -- they recently completed a gift-wrap sale they hope will raise as much as $2,300.

The school's business partners, Maryland National Bank and Columbia Camera, have teddy bear-shaped donation jars where community members can drop off spare change. Other businesses also have volunteered to be drop-off sites, including Philadelphia Style Steak and Subs in Ellicott City, Little Alexander's Pastaria and Bakery in Ellicott City and British and American Auto Repair in Columbia. The school is looking for other businesses that are willing to give counter space for a collection jar.

Donations are tax-deductible. The school will write a receipt to families who put their names on their donations. The penny drive, launched during last week's National Penny Week, ends in mid-April.

Last week, students at the school began rolling pennies and other coins. With some modification of equipment, all students will be able to participate, Mr. Girardi said.

jTC The work of putting pennies into coin wrappers is routine, but it's a hard task for the many Cedar Lane students who suffer from seizures, cerebral palsy, autism, mental retardation and other disabling conditions.

And, as they place pennies in coin wrappers, they're learning about the working world, their teachers say.

"They're learning time on task. They're learning to follow directions. Some are learning counting skills, fine motor skills," said Ellen Roper, who runs the school's career skills lab. "And they're learning basic work ethics and attitude."

Some students were able to work on their own, while others needed the help of instructional assistants to place coins in the wrappers.

Fifteen-year-old Jenny Zitnay worked on a machine with a big, red button that was hooked to an electric coin sorter.

By pushing the button, she was able to start the machine, which uses vibrations to send coins down a chute. She squealed in delight and wiggled her hands in joy as the coins fell into neat rows.

Across from her, a chatty 17-year-old Lori Landsman worked alone, carefully picking up two to three pennies at a time and putting them in a plastic container lined with a coin wrapper.

"Am I doing a good job?" she asked Ms. Roper as her red-painted fingernails clutched the plastic container.

"You're doing a very good job," Ms. Roper said.

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