Petal students collect coins for Florida hurricane victims

By HASKEL BURNS,

For the second year in a row, students from the Petal School District are out to prove that every little bit counts this week with the “Coins Count” fundraiser, collecting coins (and bills) to help victims of hurricanes.

But this year’s fundraiser is a little more personal, considering the school district is now home to three siblings from Bay District Schools in Florida, who came to the Friendly City after their schools were heavily damaged by Hurricane Michael.

“We’re always looking for ways to teach our students about caring for others,” said Margaret Tynes, director of Human Resources and Federal Programs for the Petal School District. “The fact that we have three students in the Petal School District currently who were directly affected by Hurricane Michael made it a logical decision to reach out to their home school district. 

“We want our students to learn compassion, so we look for ways to model that value.”

During the fundraiser, which began Monday and ends tomorrow, each school will receive a one- or five-gallon bucket to fill with donated coins from students, staff and the public, at which point the money will be counted by a local bank and sent to an education foundation for the district.

Money can be donated at the offices of any school in the Petal School District.

“Although (the siblings’) home was not severely damaged, they didn’t have power,” Tynes said. “I called and talked to the director of the Bay County Schools Education Foundation and they had damage at all their schools – some totally destroyed, others with minor damage.

“They are asking for all donations to go through that organization.”

The last “Coins Count” fundraiser, which was held in October of last year, raised a total of $6,037.76 for disaster victims. Petal Primary School led the way with $1,645.63, followed by Petal High School with $1,529.88, Petal Elementary School with $865.36, Petal Upper Elementary with $739.17 and Petal Middle School with $503.18.

Those donations were sent to school districts in Florida and Texas. One of those districts planned to provided gift cards to individual students and staff who were affected by storms, while the other district planned to use the funds to help purchase items for the schools that were damaged or destroyed.

“We learned after Petal Upper Elementary was damaged by the 2017 tornado that any type of assistance is meaningful,” Tynes said. “It also helps to know that others care enough to help strangers.”