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Coins for Kids: More than just raising a dollar!

“No gift is too small, every dollar counts and is greatly appreciated,” words we often hear at a United Way training or rally. This year, Coins for Kids had a record year, raising $26,949 — proof that when every dollar is added up, it makes a big difference in the community we serve!

Since 1998, Sioux Empire United Way has received campaign support from area youth through Coins for Kids. Students use small change canisters to join the community effort, in support of a beloved program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library.

Each fall, small canisters are distributed to participating elementary schools, who ask their students to fill it with whatever pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters they want to contribute. Over the years, this program has expanded to now include all elementary schools in the Sioux Falls and Harrisburg districts as well as Citi’s Bright Horizons’ daycare. The program has evolved from having assemblies in the schools while volunteers counted the coins on-site, to now First National Bank volunteers pick the coins up from the schools and bringing them to the bank to be counted.

Deb Thompson, The First National Bank Coins for Kids volunteer coordinator, mentioned, “I remember one of the first years we traveled to a Sioux Falls school and the principal at the time announced if they reached $100, he would shave his head. Of course the closer we got, the volunteers were prepared to assist to make sure they reached their goal…and they did! It is the interaction of the administration and students that has kept volunteers like myself coming back.”

With Coins for Kids now happening in hundreds of classrooms, supported by thousands of students, it takes many volunteers to make this happen! Volunteers from Premier Bankcard help organize all supplies and volunteers at The First National Bank in Sioux Falls collect and count each canister.  Thompson said, “This is such a fun program, and a great way to teach our children how to pay it forward.”

It is not just about the dollars raised, but also the awareness of a Sioux Empire United Way funded program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Students are aware that the change they collect is used to ensure that young children have access to books through United Way and Imagination Library. Aaron Weaver, Harrisburg Liberty Elementary Principal, appreciates Coins for Kids’ support of United Way and Imagination Library, “Early and consistent exposure to high quality literature is one of the best indicators for kids who will be successful in school. My own family has been blessed to receive these books in the mail and it is all thanks to Sioux Empire United Way's commitment to making this available to families like mine that truly makes a difference in the lives of the kids we serve.”

Funds raised from Coins for Kids will go to help 1,100 children receive books in 2018. As of this year, 11,300 children are currently receiving books through Imagination Library.

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter the size of the gift, but the impact that you can make within your community. This program is proof that when everyone gives a little, it adds up. Together, we can make a difference.