Washington -- Got some spare change for wildlife? Working with WWF's "Pennies for the Planet" campaign is the perfect activity for Earth Day (April 22). Hundreds of kids have already participated in the campaign this year, raising $15,000 in the past 5 months alone, while learning about wildlife and wild places.
"Participating in 'Pennies' is a great way for kids to do something meaningful and fun for Earth Day," said Judy Braus, World Wildlife Fund's education director. "The bottom line is that kids can help the Earth, whether they are restoring their local environment, or collecting pennies for on-the-ground conservation in priority areas around the world."
Every penny raised this year goes to three WWF programs: the Rivers and Streams of the American Southeast (stretching from Virginia south to Florida and west to Tennessee), which contain more kinds of freshwater creatures than anywhere else in North America; the Madagascar Dry and Spiny Forests, where lemurs and other unusual creatures live in a bizarre part-forest, part desert landscape; and the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas of Southeast Asia -- -one of the richest coral reef systems in the world and home to six of the world's eight sea turtle species.
Last year, thousands of young people, from kindergarteners to college students, raised more than $60,000 through the "Pennies for the Planet" program. Donations are also accepted at Coinstar® machines located in selected supermarkets throughout the country.
The "Pennies" Web site includes information about the three wildlife habitats, educational activities, and creative ways kids can raise money and work locally to protect biodiversity. It is also an excellent catalyst for kids, classrooms, Scout troops, nature centers, and others to talk about the importance of the natural world and the need to help protect it locally and globally.
Here are some of the things kids have done in just the past year for "Pennies for the Planet:"
- A second grade class in Jackman, Maine made posters of endangered species and then held a three-week fundraiser.
- One creative boy from Ridgewood, New Jersey raised money and awareness at his bar mitzvah.
- Twelve enterprising friends from LaGrange, Illinois held a car wash and bake sale.
- A girl from Deerfield, Illinois, rallied her friends to sell decorated flower pots.