Creating Change with Free the Children, RBC and Students Across Canada

What would you do with enough pennies to stack 100 km high (or 170 CN Towers, according to Free the Children co-founder Craig Keilburger)? Would you buy a car or maybe a house? Would you invest it all or divide it up between friends and family?

Students prepare to say goodbye to the Canadian penny and celebrate creating change for thousands of families around the world!

Would you help 28,000 families around the world to have access to clean water for life?

That’s exactly what representatives from Free the Children, RBC, and elementary students from eight Ontario schools celebrated on Monday, February 4th at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, where everyone gathered for an exciting morning of inspirational guest speakers, talented musical performances, and the big reveal of an astounding $700,000 (or 70 million pennies, enough to help 28,000 families) collected to date for the We Create Change penny drive which began in September 2012 with the aim to support clean water projects in developing communities.

The year-long penny drive runs through to the end of June 2013, but in light of the official phasing out the Canadian penny on February 4th, organizers came together with 300 student representatives from St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School, St. Maria Goretti Catholic School, St. Gabriel Lalemant Catholic School, St. Pius X Catholic School, Rotherglen School, Glenburnie, The Sterling Hall School, and Richland Academy to inspire one another to continue to ‘create change’ and help fellow students and their families around the world.

“Over three million people live on less than $2 a day,” said Mike Clemons, Vice-Chair of the Toronto Argonauts Pinball, “I ask you to show me a good person…a good person is measured by what they do for others.”

Students with bags of pennies, some that looked almost too heavy to carry, saluted the one-cent coin by shaking small penny jars throughout the event and then brought their pennies outside the school to an armoured car for transport to a local RBC branch.

The excitement was palpable throughout the event with cheers amongst the crowd for a range of notable guest speakers and performers which included:

  • The Honourable David C. Onley, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario
  • Craig & Marc Kielburger, founders of Free The Children
  • Dave McKay, group head of Personal & Commercial Banking, RBC
  • Jennifer Botterill, RBC Olympian, four-time Olympic medallist
  • Bruce Rodrigues, Director of Education, Toronto Catholic District School Board
  • Maria Bernardi, Principal at St. Thomas Aquinas Catholic School
  • Jacob Neayem, Degrassi TV series cast member
  • Tyler Shaw, Canadian singer/songwriter
  • Spencer West, Free The Children ambassador

In addition, last week Canadians were invited to bring in any amount of pennies in any kind of container to any RBC branch in Canada, to donate to Free The Children and RBC’s We Create Change penny drive with the objective to help 100,000 people at the campaign’s conclusion.

According to promoters more than 2,100 schools across Canada are participating in the We Create Change campaign.

* * * * *

How did you celebrate the phasing out of the Canadian penny? Did your child’s school participate in collecting pennies? Share your thoughts in the Comments section below!

Related Resources:

Me to We Take Action Camp

Free the Children

Rotherglen School

Glenburnie School

The Sterling Hall School

Richland Academy

About Erin McLaughlin

Erin is the communications specialist for Our Kids Media and Comfort Life. Before joining the fun folks at Our Kids, she was a freelance writer, social media coordinator and editor. She has been fortunate to build on a lifelong dream of exploring by visiting parts of the United States, Canada, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and China, and hopes to continue exploring the world always learning, evolving, and writing about it. She invites you check out the Our Kids community for key resources and great conversations!

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