It’s amazing what happens with a little competition. As was the case for Mahopac Middle School students who raised $3,382 in a “Penny War” during January 7-18. The money collected was given to JennaJackPack, an organization that provides comfort to children who have recently lost a sibling or parent with a backpack of treats to help brighten spirits.
JennaJackPack came to be from the tragic loss of Jenna Nolan, a Mahopac Middle school student who passed in 2014. During the difficult time of her passing, a student gave Jenna’s younger brother a backpack filled with treats to help boost his spirits. This one kind act made such a positive impact that the Nolan family created an organization to help other children who have lost a sibling or parent by giving them a backpack of treats.
Organized by team 7A and the middle school’s Wingmen, a group of students committed to serve their student body with acts of inclusion, empathy and connectedness, the Penny War consisted of each class team filling a large water jug with money.
However, the initiative was more than dropping pennies into a jug. Collaborative strategic thinking was required as winning was determined by points. Each penny counts as one positive point for a class team classroom. Each silver coin counts as negative points for another class team. For example, dropping a quarter in another class team’s bucket takes 25 points from their total.
Mahopac Middle School teachers and Wingmen leaders, Jenifer Maloney and Christine McNeill, said the penny war really brought the students together in a spirited and positive way. “It was great to see the students working together and in such a generous way. One student gave $100 of her own money. We were truly taken back with the student’s generosity and participation,” said Maloney.
In the end, the winning team was decided by a difference of $1.80. The Wingmen personally provided Cathy Nolan with the raised funds.
“Seeing the students come together to help JennaJackPack is a testament of the ‘Mahopac Way.’ The Wingmen, along with Mrs. Maloney and Mrs. McNeill and team 7A, did a tremendous job,” said Tom Cozzocrea, Mahopac Middle School principal.
For more information about JennaJackPack or to donate, please visit jennajackpack.org.
About the Mahopac Middle School Wingmen
Mahopac Middle School’s Wingmen program was created by the father of a Sandy Hook shooting victim that helps students to hone their leadership skills and foster inclusion and connectedness with all students. Ian Hockley, who lost his 6-year-old son Dylan, created Dylan's Wings of Change in his memory. The foundation is committed to helping children with autism and other related conditions achieve their full potential. Out of that, they also developed the Wingman Program which the Mahopac Middle School instituted with students in 2016.
You can follow @WingmanMMS on Instagram and Twitter