Penny Wars at Geneseo's Northside School benefits charities

Claudia Loucks
Northside School fifth graders Kade Heilman, left; and Brooklyn Eaton, wrote the winning essays in the school’s “Penny Wars” competition.

Fifty-one students in the two fifth grade classes at Northside Elementary School in Geneseo took part in a recent “Penny Wars” competition to raise funds for charities of their choice.

The assignment from their fifth grade teachers, Amber Williamsen and Janelle Hickey, asked each student to write an essay about which charity should receive the money donated. Teams were divided into boys and girls, and each team voted for the essay they thought was “most persuasive” to donate their spare change.

Students brainstormed a list of charities, researched a charity of choice, and persuaded their peers on where to donate the Penny Wars money. There was no word count limitation to the essays, but students were expected to write at least five paragraphs.

The girls collected $174.32 for “Charity: Water,” with the winning essay written by Brooklyn Eaton, daughter of Jacob and Courtney Eaton.

The boys collected $480.24 for Children’s Hospital of Peoria with the winning essay written by Kade Heilman, son of Quinn Heilman and Whitney McDonald.

“It was great watching the students get excited about this writing piece,” Williamsen said. “Students were very motivated to convince their peers to donate to their charity of choice. All of the students did an excellent job writing their essay and presenting them in front of the class.

The Penny Wars project was held at the three elementary schools in the Geneseo School District.

CHARITY:WATER by Brooklyn Eaton

“How many people have Charity: Water given access to clean water? They have given 8 million people fresh water. The fifth graders should donate our money to Charity:Water. 785 million people don’t have access to clean water, but Charity:Water can help that. These waters carry diseases that can make you sick. When a community gets access to clean water it can help their life in so many ways. It can improve health, access to food, and grow local communities.

Over one million people have donated to Charity:Water. They have given more than $300 million dollars to its cause. They have built 38,000 wells in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. 785 million people don’t have fresh water and every year, nearly 11 million kids die before they reach their fifth birthday because of the lack of water they have to survive. Would you want innocent kids and babies dying a year from the lack of water they don’t have?

850,000 people have died from the lack of fresh water they don’t have access to. There have been 64,081 water project funds, 12,535,591 people will be served, and that is in 29 countries. In Africa alone, women spend 40 billion hours a year walking for water. Women are responsible for 72 percent of the water that is collected in Sub-Saharan Africa. If you want to change the lives of thousands of people, vote for me to give our penny war funds to Charity:Water.

Access to clean water changed the lives of Hadjara, Umu, Natalia, and Devison. All these people are kids and they all made a difference in their families’ lives. These kids all helped their families by finding water.

This shows that no matter how old you are, you can change someone’s life. Alicia Keys, Blake Shelton, Justin Beiber, and Anna Kendrick have all donated to this charity.

Communities around the world are struggling for access to clean water. We can save so many lives if we donate our penny war funds to Charity:Water. Vote now to help save people in need.”


“Where should the fifth graders donate the penny war funds? In my opinion, the fifth graders should donate the penny war funds to the Children’s Hospital of Illinois for many reasons. First of all, the Children’s Hospital provides excellent care to the kids who come there sick. This hospital is highly trained especially for kids with special illnesses or diseases, and they even saved my sister’s life 4 years ago. When kids and their families are in the hospital, the hospital provided them with different things to help them with their stay.

The nurses and doctors have constant monitoring of the patients while they are admitted. The entire staff is very professional and will take you anywhere you need to go. The hospital is very clean and the food services are awesome. Also, the staff is great with the kids and they often bring a service dog to brighten up the kids’ day. The hospital has famous athletes such as Anthony Rizzo, Ryan Dungey, and many NBA players come visit to help cheer the children up.

When there is an emergency, the Children’s Hospital of Illinois is open 24 hours and also provides online care. Doctors and nurses are on call all the time to help kids who are sick which was really great when my sister had to go to the hospital. The Children’s Hospital of Illinois is a level one pediatric and a level three neonatal intensive care unit which is the highest in the state. The hospital ranks in the top 50 in the U.S.

If you can’t afford anything when you’re in the hospital, they help you out and give you what you need. While the patients are there, the nurses and the doctors are always encouraging them to never give up. Tom Brewer has been traveling across Illinois for the past four years, to raise money for the Children’s Hospital of Illinois. Tom Brewer walks more than 15 miles a day. This shows how much the hospital means to people. Also, when you’re in the hospital you get to watch TV most of the day and you can play games too.

In my opinion, the penny war funds should go to the Children’s Hospital of Illinois because the staff is highly trained and will take great care of any child, they put forth a huge effort to make the children feel at home while they are there, and they will provide you with anything you and your family may need if you ever had to stay unexpectedly. This hospital does a lot for their patients and the penny war funds would help them to be able to continue to do this in the future.”