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Rock Hill students holding change drive

HANGING ROCK – The first thing you see as you walk into Rock Hill Elementary No.

Tuesday, September 18, 2001

HANGING ROCK – The first thing you see as you walk into Rock Hill Elementary No. 4 is an American flag, handpainted – literally.

Dozens of red and blue handprints on white construction paper make an impromptu salute to the nation – a nation in mourning after last week’s terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.

The second thing you see? A jar of pennies sitting in the hall, under a banner that reads, "God Bless America."

Children started tossing the pennies and other coins into the jar Monday, part of a helping hands project staff and students decided last week to undertake.

"The kids wanted to know what they could do, so we decided to try this," said reading teacher Dee Travis.

Like millions of other people across America, Rock Hill students and staff watched the devastation unfold last week.

"They sat and watched it with us, and cried with us, and we talked to them," Mrs. Travis said. "They know when the adults are upset and they need to know to talk."

One of the ways children can cope with such a disaster is by helping, but they’re too young to give blood or take up some other activity, the teacher said.

"This is something to do so they won’t feel helpless, a penny drive."

Placing some of their coins in before lunch, students Rachel Massie, Hannah Kelley and Sarah Travis said they have already collected lots of pennies from home.

It’s good to help others who need it, they said.

"When we were passing out notes about this to send home to parents, one little boy brought me three pennies, all he had," Mrs. Travis said. "That broke my heart. They’re so generous, and they do want to do something.

"It’s something everyone in the school can do."

Donations gained from the change drive will be counted and sent to those who are suffering in Washington and New York, the teacher said.