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Published: Wednesday, November 16, 2011, 12:01 a.m.

Monroe kids learn value of helping others

  • Imagine Children's Museum volunteer Nancy Whitson reads "My Rows and Piles of Coins" to Sarah Jaffe's fourth-grade class at Frank Wagner Ele...

    Mark Mulligan / The Herald

    Imagine Children's Museum volunteer Nancy Whitson reads "My Rows and Piles of Coins" to Sarah Jaffe's fourth-grade class at Frank Wagner Elementary School in Monroe Tuesday morning. After the reading, the class chooses how to best use a $10 cash gift for their community.

MONROE -- Nancy Whitson had a challenge for a fourth-grade class at Frank Wagner Elementary School on Tuesday morning.
After reading the book "My Rows and Piles of Coins," a story about a boy saving up money to help his parents, Whitson gave an envelope to teacher Sarah Jaffe with $10 in it.
"I'm giving you a challenge and an opportunity to be a philanthropist," said Whitson, a Lynnwood resident who is volunteering for Imagine Children's Museum.
The class will decide how to spend the money to help the community in some way. They could either donate it to a charity of their choosing, or use it to buy materials and hold a fundraiser to earn more money, as other schools have done it in the past.
Whitson is one of about 100 museum staff and volunteers visiting schools across the county to promote literacy and charity. The volunteers are scheduled to wind up this week with visits to Machias, Discovery, Mill Creek, Cedarwood and Mountlake Terrace elementary schools.
Inspiring children to read is the program's primary goal. Volunteers try to get children involved by choosing topics such as oral hygiene, compost and bullying. The topic of philanthropy became so popular that the museum has featured it three years in a row, said Mark Johnson, a member of the fund development staff at the museum.
"The response from teachers and students was that they loved the program," Johnson said.
The museum aims to reach 300 classrooms. This year, the program added schools in Monroe, Edmonds and Lake Stevens. The classrooms participating were from second to sixth grade because those students are in the book's age group, Johnson said.
Last January, a fourth grade class at Penny Creek Elementary School in Everett used what they learned from the program to help the victims of the tsunami in Japan, Johnson said.
"They applied what they learned to a new disaster in the world and raised almost $2,500 to give to the Red Cross," Johnson said.
All classrooms have until Jan. 13 to submit a report to the museum telling how the money was spent. The museum plans to publish the reports on its website.
The $20,000 project was funded by donations from private businesses. The funds were used to pay for the books, materials and staff.
Back at Frank Wagner, the fourth graders already had plans for spending the $10. There were ideas to put it in a fund aimed to purchase school supplies for students in third world countries or to help animal shelters.
Some of the kids already like reading even before they were visited by the museum.
In the book, the main character gets rewarded at the end by his kindness. This taught a lesson to 9-year-old Kincaid Adams.
"By helping others he was helping himself," Kincaid said.
Alejandro Dominguez: 425-339-3422; adominguez@heraldnet.com.

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