Freehold school collects pennies in effort to help Ukrainians

A first grader in Freehold, who recently went to school visibly upset, was asked by her teacher what was wrong. She said she has family in Ukraine and was worried about their safety -- that's when the school jumped into action.

News 12 Staff

Mar 15, 2022, 9:31 AM

Updated 802 days ago

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A first grader in Freehold, who recently went to school visibly upset, was asked by her teacher what was wrong. She said she has family in Ukraine and was worried about their safety -- that's when the school jumped into action.
The school decided to collect pennies to help those overseas.    
First grader Victoria Stefashyn is Ukrainian-American. Her grandparents are currently stuck in the war-torn country.She last saw them when she visited Ukraine last year.
"I’m nervous about them because I love them,” says Victoria.
Victoria's mom, Anna Stefashyn, has been following the news closely as she watches areas in and around her hometown being attacked.
"We knew we had to do something here to help,” says supervisor of instruction Danielle Parella.    
Once the staff at Marshall W. Errickson Elementary School in Freehold heard about Victoria's family, they decided to help, one penny at a time.
"Even though a penny might see so small, it's still doing so much,” says Parella.
The school is raising money for UNICEF's efforts in helping Ukrainians. Normally, they call fundraisers such as this "Penny Wars," but given the circumstances, “it seems more appropriate to do Pennies For Peace,” says Parella.
Since last week, students have been collecting pennies, counting them at home, even looking between couch cushions, before bringing it to school.
"It might be one penny, but the impact is so much more than that,” says Parella.
Students this week will be dumping coins into containers during lunch. But it's not just pennies, they are receiving bills too.
This inspired many students to participate, including Victoria's classmate Nathan, whose family is from Poland. He donated $1,000.
As for Victoria, she has one wish.
"Ukraine was safe, that was my wish, and my grandma and grandpa are safe,” says Victoria.
Victoria just moved to Freehold from New York less than two months ago. Whichever grade gets the most points will get an ice cream party.
If you would like to donate pennies, the school will continue collecting them this week.


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