Minnesota News

Elementary school collects nickles for Nicaragua

In a place like the U.S. where there is so much wealth, it can be difficult for young kids to wrap their minds around the reality of the challenging conditions many people around the world live in.

It's a reality one local elementary school is not only learning about, but working to change, one nickle at a time.

Ask a La Crescent-Hokah Elementary student what Nickles for Nicaragua is and you'll get an answer like this.

"They're raising money and it takes 420 blocks, I think, to build a house and each block is $10," said fourth-grade student Tyler Sebo.

It's an initiative that's just a little more than a month old.

"The Gundersen Lutheran Global Connection Network came to visit our building leadership team and the leadership team decided this would be something we would be interested in," said Julie Beddow-Schubert, principal of La Crescent-Hokah Elementary School.

"We named it Nickles for Nicaragua and each of the classrooms has a jar and kids bring money and every $10 they bring in raises enough money to get one block for a home. So we represent that by a paper block that the kids decorate and we have a cardboard house in the lobby that we're putting all those blocks on and our goal is to build a complete house," said Margaret Cassidy, a special education La Crescent-Hokah Elementary teacher.

While the kids get the idea of raising money, it's taken a little time to for them to understand how different life is in other parts of the world.

"The concept of how big the world is is a tough thing for them to understand. They are able to read about different places in the world and start looking at maps and realize we're just a small piece of the world," said John Steffes, a La Crescent-Hokah Elementary second-grade teacher.


Sebo said he didn't even know Nicaragua existed before the fundraiser started.   

"It's hard because there's not much food and they have to make a bunch of stuff for them and it's hard for them because they don't have stoves and they have to cook it on fires with pots and then their roofs are just like tin," said Sebo.

Teachers hope it's a project that will help students learn the value of giving early on.

"If students don't have those practical, actual experiences, they will not necessarily come by them or seek them out to have that sense of compassion and giving, and practicing that in community can only lead to more and more service learning as the kids actually grow up and become adults," said Beddow-Schubert.

The school has already raised $1,000, that means there's still $3,200 left to raise by December 14th.

If you'd like to donate you can make a check out to the La Crescent-Hokah Parent Teacher Association and mail it to the elementary school at 4th and Oak Street, La Crescent, MN, 55947.

You can also drop off a donation in person at the school.

If you have questions, you can call the school at 507-895-4428.

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