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Schools Push Pennies For Patients
Streams of pennies plus higher denomination coins and even dollar bills and checks are pouring into Rio Altura Elementary and Riverbank High classrooms to fund the fight against the diseases of leukemia and lymphoma.

Students at both schools have been collecting money in the Pennies for Patients campaign for several weeks now but the program is due to end this Friday.

At Rio Altura on a recent day, members of the Student Council were spending their lunch hour bringing collection boxes and bags from each classroom to teacher Lupe Duarte's classroom for sorting and counting.

The school raised $2,000 for the 2008 campaign Duarte said, and is aiming to collect $2,200 this year. Students and staff are bringing money from home each day to swell the coffers.

Classes have a chance to earn and display School and Youth pennants at the bronze, silver and gold in recognition of their teamwork and philanthropy.

Schools can win gift cards and each student who raises more than $25 is entered in a contest to win prizes ranging from four Sacramento Zoo tickets and a backpack, to a new bike or a wave board.

In addition, the top fundraising class will receive a pizza party.

At Riverbank High, Myra Salas is running the show and also collecting the coins from each classroom with the help of Student Council members.

Students are bringing in pennies, nickels and dimes plus bank notes and any other form of cash.

The classes are competing to collect the most money with the winner receiving a donut or pizza party.

Teacher Kevin Hejnal, she noted, filled his classroom collecting box in one day with $10 worth of pennies and had to draw an additional box.