Students make a change with change

Erin Wiltz

Students, faculty and staff are being given the chance to do more with their pocket change than let it idly collect in containers on their desks.

Pennies for Peace is a service learning program of the Central Asia Institute. The CAI is a program started by Greg Mortenson, author of “Three Cups of Tea.” Pennies for Peace was initially started at a school in Michigan where Mortenson’s mother taught. People there were the first to contribute to the schools Mortenson wanted to build in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Since then, Pennies for Peace has become a campaign which elementary schools use to emphasize the idea that one penny can make a huge difference. Washburns Student Government Association is conducting the campaign in conjunction with the iRead committee in honor of Mortenson coming to campus.

A penny has little value in the United States, but in Pakistan and Afghanistan a penny buys one pencil and encourages a child to read and write. The goal of Pennies for Peace is to encourage children, society’s future leaders, to share just a penny for global peace. The mission of the program is to promote and support community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls in remote mountain regions of Central Asia.

WSGA is planning on continuing the efforts into next semester and hopes to raise $12,000 to build a school in Central Asia by the end of this administration. So far WSGA has risen a little over $300, and it plans to get all of Topeka aware of the Pennies for Peace campaign.

“It’s going to be tough raising enough money to meet our goal of $12,000, and we don’t know how long it’s going to take us,” said Erica Koepsel, WSGA public relations director. WSGA plans on widening support through other organizations. WSGA is also looking into having Pennies for Peace week.

“It’s a great program and I love the concept that a penny can make a difference,” said Koepsel. WSGA looks forward to support from the Washburn and Topeka community in the involvement of Pennies for Peace. Jars are located throughout campus but major areas are located in Mabee Library, the Corner Store, the Student Activities and Greek Life office, Memorial Union and the WSGA office. A gift goes a long way, because $20 gets one student’s school supplies for a year, $100 gets maternal healthcare supplies for one year, $12,000 gets one school building, and $50,000 gets one school building and support for 3 to 5 years. To learn more information contact the Washburn Student Government Association or go online to