DELMAR — Bethlehem Central Lab School combatted the Omicron variant, stopping their in-person volunteerism, by competing against each other to raise funds. The school raised $848.77 in four weeks for the South End Children’s Cafe.
The Lab School coordinator Dave Lendrum first suggested a penny war. English teacher, Andrew Rickert, remembered seeing a penny wars fundraiser being used during his graduate school experience at The College of Saint Rose.
“It certainly is a fun and competitive way to drive participation,” Rickert said.
A penny war is typically a competition amongst students to raise funds for an organization or foundation. In the case of the Lab School, grades nine through twelve competed against each other to raise the most money for South End Children’s Cafe.
“Lab school traditionally has a competition between each of our four classes,” Rickert said. “So it seemed like a creative way to pick everyone’s spirit up.”
The rules for Lab School’s penny war were bills and pennies positively contributed to the donation for that grade. However, silver coins added to the containers negatively took away from the respective grades donation total.
At the end of the war, before December break, the freshman class won totalling 21,988 points or $424.89. The Lab School sophomore class came in second with 7,615 points, donating $240.90.
“Community service and volunteerism is a core expectation of Lab School, students are required to do 15 hours each year and the pandemic has severely hampered our goals,” Rickert said. “We have a long-standing history volunteering with the South End Children’s Cafe, since we couldn’t be there in-person the least we could do is send funds to aid in their amazing efforts.”
The $848.77 was donated to South End Children’s Cafe, addresses food security issues and inequalities that inner-city youth often experience. South End helps students by providing a healthy snack, homework help, exercise, and art participation during after school hours.
“They are always happy to accept donations that will benefit the students of the South End directly in supplying food for meals,” Rickert said. “They also appreciate any students that can donate their time to help out on a regular basis with cooking and spending time with patrons.”
The on-going pandemic has halted a lot of the Lab School’s in-person volunteerism; however, there are hopes to return to it as restrictions loosen.
The Lab School’s biggest challenge during the penny war was transporting the tupperware containers to South End Children’s Cafe.
“Each night we’d lock them in a science storage room and so it was a lot of back and forth lugging these extremely heavy tubs and ensuring their security,” Rickert said.
As Bethlehem Central Lab School reaches its 30th year, their fundraising efforts are shifting to future field trips. The Lab School is also anticipating their next freshman class for Fall 2022 with applications closing on February 11.
They are also anticipating their 24th annual Brooks BBQ on Saturday, March 5. Due to the ongoing pandemic, the event will be a drive-thru and online sales will go live this week.
Adam Rickert was very pleased with the success of the war and saw it as killing two birds with one stone– or 9,512 pennies.
“Plus, who uses actual coins anymore,” Rickert said. “There is a coin circulation shortage and we wanted to help with that too.”