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Riverbank High Penny Wars Raise $$ For Fire Victims
The Leadership Class at Riverbank High School organized a round of Penny Wars to raise funds for victims of the Caldor Fire. VIRGINIA STILL/THE NEWS

Riverbank High School united to raise funds for victims of the Caldor fire through a friendly competition of Penny Wars. The Leadership Class organized the two week war that raised $1600 for the families affected by the fire.

Riverbank Unified School District (RUSD) Superintendent Christine Facella brought the challenge to the leadership students at RHS as she was informed by friend and colleague Superintendent of Pioneer Union School District (PUSD) Annette Lane that there were several families in need.

“It got me thinking that we could do something as a service project with the high school kids for this other community,” said Facella. “I proposed that they do something. I did not tell them what. I told them whatever you do we will raise the money and get them gift cards; that is what they really need. In the end they landed on the Penny Wars.”

RHS senior, Cheerleader Captain, and ASB President Kellie Laughlin took the lead and assembled the leadership team that organized the Penny Wars.

“We just really wanted to help out our community and their community,” explained Laughlin. “We all thought it was a super sad story so we wanted to help out as best as we could. We were told that their schools had burned down and they didn’t have anything and we were all fortunate enough to help them.”

Each classroom had a jar to collect the donations during the two week period of pennies, quarters or dollars. The class that collected the most money won the competition. Mr. Erro’s class won the Penny Wars collecting a little over $300 total.

One of Erro’s students dropped a $50 bill in the jar which inspired him to step up his game as he had only donated $20 originally. The next day as Erro added more cash to the jar so did the same student that generously deposited the first $50 with another $50.

“I was touched,” expressed Erro. “I was like thank you so much, that is incredible. It is for a great cause. I asked if they were sure they wanted to do that. They said ‘yeah, I like to help.’ … I had several students in that second period class put cash in and had some put pennies in. I didn’t think I would win because I have never won any of these competitions before. I was just really surprised.”

After the Penny Wars were over Erro showed his students pictures from the damage of the Caldor Fire.

“This has been a transitional year as we have brought students back to class full time,” added Erro. “This is the most excited I have seen the students for Penny Wars. They are really happy about it. I am just glad that we were able to raise so much money.”

RHS Principal Greg Diaz noted that he was pleased to see the students participate in the Penny Wars and that it was just one little thing that they could do.

“I am very proud of my community for coming together and helping another community out,” remarked Laughlin. “I am very proud of every student that donated money. I think that is a great thing to do to help the less fortunate.”

The Target gift cards will be sent to Lane, who will then distribute them to those in need. Facella mentioned that there will be a Zoom call at the end of the month about the donation.

She said, “I think it will be a good opportunity for the families that are still in need to get another gift card to help them along the way wherever they happen to be living and whatever their situation is.”