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WWF Kicks Off Annual Pennies for the Planet Campaign

Washington - Starting today, kids across the country will begin collecting pennies to benefit the planet. For the fifth straight year World Wildlife Fund's Pennies for the Planet campaign will encourage young people across the country to learn about wildlife and wild places and give them a way to improve the environment.

"We've found that kids care tremendously about wildlife and the environment," said Judy Braus, World Wildlife Fund's education director. "The Pennies for the Planet program provides them with tangible ways to become directly involved and helps them see the results of their efforts."

Every penny raised this year will go to three areas in which WWF works: the Rivers and Streams of the American Southeast, which contain more kinds of aquatic creatures than anywhere else in the U.S.; the Madagascar Dry and Spiny Forests, where cacti reach up to 50 feet in the air; and the Sulu-Sulawesi Seas of Southeast Asia, where the giant manta ray can reach up to 3,000 pounds in weight.

Just last year, thousands of young people, from kindergarteners to college students, raised more than $50,000 to benefit wildlife through the Pennies for the Planet program. Since February, donations for Pennies for the Planet have been accepted at Coinstar® machines located in selected supermarkets throughout the country.

The program offers a fun and educational Web site, which includes information about the three wildlife habitats, educational activities, and ideas for 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.

For additional information about the program, contact Florence Miller, Pennies for the Planet coordinator, at (202)778-9559.

"It's important for kids to know that they can make a difference -- in their own communities and beyond our borders. Their passion for protecting the environment -- through educating others, collecting pennies, and restoring habitat -- should give us all hope for the future," continued Braus.