ALPENA - In times of need, every penny adds up, and Lincoln Elementary School students, staff and administrators demonstrated it after raising $173.36 during a school penny drive for Hurricane Sandy relief.
While the entire school participated in the penny drive, the project was led by nine-year-old Brendan Stepaniak. Principal Pauline Burnham said overall the efforts are another example of how much heart Lincoln has.
"First, I started with a hurricane club to help out. We had meetings at home, but two days after our first meeting I asked my teacher (Kellie) Poli, because she does a lot for our school, if we could do a penny drive for Hurricane Sandy," Brendan Stepaniak said. "We got permission from our principal and started."
However, Stepaniak said he had a variety of ideas on how to raise money for Hurricane Sandy victims, but after talking about the different ideas he decided it would be most effective.
"He couldn't stand watching the hurricane coverage, especially when he saw a woman lost her home. That's when he said we needed to do something," his mother, Vicky Stepaniak, said. "He wanted to come up with an idea that everyone could help with."
Brendan said he eliminated different ideas like bottle drives and sales after talking to his mom, Vicky Stepaniak.
"I had a lot of other ideas, but I decided to go with the penny drive, so people could donate whatever they wanted," Brendan said. "We had a bucket by the office to donate, it had blue words that said penny drive for Hurricane Sandy relief."
On Friday, during a Lincoln assembly, he donated $173.36 to the American Red Cross. Cindy Bauer of the American Red Cross thanked him for his efforts to inspire his classmates at Lincoln and help individuals in need.
"I feel really good right now," he said. "I hope the money goes to supplies for houses, cleaning up, and to replace other things that are replaceable."
Bauer presented Brendan with a plaque, red chords as an honorary humanitarian, and an American Red Cross key chain. Bruce Anschuetz of Cliff Anschuetz Chevrolet also donated match money for the victims of Hurricane Sandy during the assembly.
"It would be nice to challenge more businesses to get involved," Vicky Stepaniak said. "It was completely unexpected, but I'm excited."
Brendan said in the future, he still plans on continuing with hurricane relief efforts and meeting with the hurricane club members, which currently consists of his mom , his dad, Craig, and younger brother Tyler.
"We're just so proud of him," Craig Stepaniak said. "We couldn't be happier."
Emily Siegmon can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 358-5687.