, Muskogee, OK

February 15, 2013

Porter’s penny philanthropy

School group collects coins for Conn. community

By Dylan Goforth
Phoenix Staff Writer

— Watching the images flash across her screen as parents in Connecticut were told that 20 of their children had died in a school shooting, Sharon Rash felt the call to do something.

Rash, the Porter Consolidated Schools Family, Careers and Community Leaders of America adviser, and her FCCLA group settled on a fundraiser: They would ask every student, teacher, administrator, business and resident to donate 28 pennies — one penny each for the 27 deaths in Newtown, Conn., on Dec. 14, 2012. The 28th penny would be for the community, still reeling from the mass shooting.

Rash and her FCCLA group got their school involved. They started a Facebook page — “28 Pennies to Remember,” encouraging students and teachers to toss handfuls of coins into five-gallon buckets.

“Some of them wouldn’t even count what they were giving,” said Anna Green, a sophomore FCCLA officer. “They would just say, ‘Oh, this is a good idea,’ and toss as much change in there as they could.”

The group got businesses involved, too. Chili’s in Muskogee put on a fundraiser one night during which patrons who brought in a “28 Pennies to Remember” flier would have 10 percent of their bill donated to the fund. Red Lobster got wind of the promotion and collected money one night as well.

“It was amazing to see what we could accomplish with a Facebook page,” said Paloma Chavez, a sophomore FCCLA officer. “It was amazing to see it take off.”

The final total isn’t yet known, but Rash estimates that the group raised more than $2,000, and money continues to come in. High schools from all over the state took part in the fundraiser, so the total could keep rising.

“It was inspiring that we could step up like that,” said Skyler Britt, a freshman FCCLA officer. “It could just keep going too, we could keep doing things like this.”

Rash said the page helped inform the community that the FCCLA group was interested in doing charity work.

“We’ve now gotten involved with a group called Emmy’s Heart,” Rash said. “They create tutus and crowns for girls and capes for boys who are in the hospital for serious illnesses.

“They’ve sent us some kits, and we’ve done some sewing for them.”

The current FCCLA officers would like to see this spirit of charity last long beyond their terms.

“It would be great to graduate and come back here one day and see other students still doing things like this,” said Danielle Cantu, a senior FCCLA officer. “It would be awesome.”

Reach Dylan Goforth at (918) 684-2903 or

You can help

Porter Consolidated Schools’ “28 Pennies to Remember” fundraiser is continuing to accept donations. Sharon Rash and her FCCLA students are raising money to donate to the Newtown, Conn., community following December’s deadly shooting.

Rash, FCCLA’s adviser, can be reached at (918) 483-7011 or by email at