Annual Common Cents fundraiser aims to collect change for the better

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A little change can go a long way.

Students from 19 Dallas ISD schools collected a total of $23,638.39 to donate to 24 Dallas-area nonprofit organizations through the 19th annual Common Cents Pennies from the Heart campaign.

The effort aims to encourage students to give back to their communities through charitable giving. Students collected spare change from classmates at their schools through December 2016. On Wednesday, Feb. 22, students presented checks to the nonprofit organizations they selected to receive the donations.

Awards were given for the top fundraising schools. Skyline High School won theLouise Gartner Common Cents Pennies from the Heart trophy for having the most participation and collecting the largest amount overall, a total of $7,385.08. Albert Sidney Lanier Expressive Arts Vanguard raised the most among elementary participants, a total of $1,680. Sunset High School took the award for secondary schools, raising a total of $2,324.36.

Stephanie Hernandez, a junior at Skyline High School, won the $3,000 Louise Gartner Scholarship. At Skyline, the fundraisers are all members of the school’s Homecoming Court.

“For me, winning Homecoming Court was more than my picture in a yearbook, flowers or a crown,” Hernandez said. “It was about raising money and doing something bigger than me. This year I was especially motivated to raise money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital, considering the fact that I plan on becoming a pediatric surgeon and this hospital does exactly what I am hoping to do in the future.”

Common Cents was founded by Louise Gartner in 1998. This was the first check presentation without Ms. Gartner, who passed away in January at age 97. Her daughter, GiGi, has overseen the annual campaign the past several years. During the life of the program, Pennies from the Heart has raised $850,000 that has gone directly to nonprofits.

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