Local girl challenges Cranbrook students to collect one million pennies

Penny drive in Cranbrook will help provide clean water in developing countries

  • Nov. 26, 2012 5:00 a.m.

Jelena Jensen has already started collecting pennies to bring clean water to developing countries.

Cranbrook middle-school student, Jelena Jensen, is challenging the students of Cranbrook to collect pennies, to help children around the world. She is organizing a penny drive throughout the city and is confident Cranbrook students can collect 1,000,000 pennies or $10,000.

Jelena got the idea when she attended We Day in Calgary last month with her uncle, Chad Jensen. We Day is an event created to empower youth to make a difference in the world. That’s when she learned that $25 is enough to provide one person in a developing country with a permanent source of clean water, for life. “That really struck me,” said Jelena. “There is a water bottle vending machine at my school. For $25 I can buy myself 17 bottles of water, or for $25 I can provide clean, safe drinking water to a person who really needs that, and change their life. Many girls can’t go to school because they have to spend so many hours walking to get water for their family. I love school and I want to help other children so they can go to school too. Everyone deserves to have clean drinking water that won’t make them sick.”

So 12-year-old Jelena is leading We Create Change – Cranbrook, in conjunction with Free The Children and the We Create Change campaign made possible by RBC. The campaign supports Free The Children’s year-long Water Initiative to provide 100,000 people with permanent sources of clean water.

Free The Children, supported by RBC, has embarked on what it hopes will be Canada’s largest penny drive, calling on all students to create change by providing a powerful send-off to the Canadian penny, which will soon be going out of circulation.

“Growing up, I’m sure I wasn’t alone in having a piggy bank filled with pennies and loose change, so why not use this change to help make real change possible,” said Craig Kielburger, co-Founder, Free The Children. “Free The Children is going back to basics this year with a penny drive, and thanks to RBC, it is now easier than ever to make your cents count. For the first time, no rolling or counting needed. Just pick up a bag, fill it and drop it off at your local RBC branch and we’ll take care of the rest.”

Free The Children has sent Jelena a large supply of official We Create Change penny bags and in just the past week, she has collected enough change to fill 20 bags. When one bag is filled, it equals $25 – enough to provide one person with a permanent source of clean water. Jelena hopes that together, the students of Cranbrook can fill 400 bags – that’s 1,000,000 pennies, $10,000, and positive change in the lives of 400 people. Jelena has just begun speaking to groups to promote the campaign and she wants to talk to everyone! “If each student in Cranbrook collected only $3 for We Create Change, we would easily reach that goal,” said Jelena. “I would like to speak at each school and each church in Cranbrook over the next two weeks and get everyone involved. Together, we will make change.”

Penny drop-off locations have been established at several Cranbrook businesses. You can drop your pennies and any donations into water jugs, donated by Culligan, located at New Dawn Developments, Home Hardware, Bridge Interiors, Culligan/Flaman Fitness and Falkins Insurance.

“Financial literacy and access to clean water are two issues that RBC cares about very strongly – this campaign brings them together in a way we believe young Canadians will relate to,” added Dave McKay, Group Head, Canadian Banking, RBC. “We Create Change gives Canada’s youth a simple, tangible way to show the value in every cent and RBC is happy to do our part to support students and schools across Canada’s as they participate in this penny drive.”

For more information about how you can get involved in We Create Change – Cranbrook, or to invite her to speak at your school or group, contact Jelena or her mom (Leanne) at 250-426-7594, or visit Facebook: We Create Change – Cranbrook.

For more information about Free The Children’s Water Initiative, visit www.freethechildren.com/water.

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