‘Change Changes Things’

Published 12:06 pm Thursday, April 25, 2019

McKinney students run with teacher’s challenge; help raise over $1,200

MCKINNEY — McKinney Elementary School students are spreading goodwill throughout the community and beyond.

Last September, social studies teacher Heather Pendleton issued a simple challenge to her second- through fifth-grade students to collect change so it could be used to help others. The challenge was called “Change Changes Things” and started as a pocket-change challenge to make the students aware of the needs of others.

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“I issued the challenge because, as a social students teacher, I am supposed to teach my students what it means to be a good citizen,” said Pendleton. “Part of being a good citizen is recognizing a need and helping with that need. The project allows students to put what they are learning into action.”

And Pendleton said the response from her students was “unbelievable.”

“Within two weeks, students had brought in almost $200,” she said. “They were asking family and neighbors to chip in and several students even decided to donate their ice cream money they were going to spend at lunch.”

While “unbelievable,” Pendleton said the response was not unexpected.

“I have some really great, caring students,” she said. “I knew they would get excited about what we were doing, but I guess I was a little surprised by the continual personal sacrifices they were making. Typically when a child is given the choice between buying an ice cream or giving away the ice cream money, most children will choose the ice cream. It made me feel great knowing the example they were setting; that as elementary school age students they were being extraordinary citizens. Most adults wouldn’t make the same sacrifices the students were making.”

Pendleton related that one particular student, a fifth-grade boy, brought in $20 of his own money that he had been saving.

“He did not want any recognition for it either,” she said. “He snuck it under a pile of change before anyone in the class could see who brought it.”

But the giving hasn’t stopped there. Word soon spread throughout the community of “Change Changes Things” and donations started rolling in. After a Facebook post, Pendleton said she started receiving notification of donations from other counties and other states.

Since receiving board approval and initiating the fundraising challenge, the effort has now raised over $1,200 in cash donations – and the number is rising.

“Donations from the community and beyond begin to pour in as well,” Pendleton said. “They heard what the students were doing and wanted to show their support … They understood the importance of young people learning how to help others.”

When word of the project got out to the community, Pendleton said she wasn’t surprised by the local support.

“I grew up in this community. I know how wonderful and supportive they can be,” she said. “I knew they would quickly get behind anything the students of McKinney Elementary were excited about. I was surprised by the donations that came in from beyond the community, though.”

Pendleton says the current total is enough money to make 26 fleece knot blankets for local children in need, to make 130 dog toys for the animal shelter, to fill 18 relief bags for victims of Hurricane Florence in the Carolinas, and to purchase and fill 48 reusable canvas bags with hygiene items (towel, washcloth, soap, shampoo, deodorant, toothbrush, and toothpaste) for the homeless. The relief bags were distributed to flood victims back in the fall.

In addition to the cash donations, items were also donated for specific projects.

The McKinney students are currently involved in raising money to make sensory bags and fidget blankets for those affected by Alzheimer’s Disease.

Pendleton says this project will be the “most tedious and expensive project yet, but the students are excited for the challenge.” She added that one student even asked if he could take one of the finished products home to his great-grandmother who has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease.

To take part in the “Change Changes Things” project, there are a couple ways to help. Monetary donations can be dropped off at or mailed to McKinney Elementary School, P.O. Box 67, 3425 KY Hwy 198, McKinney, KY 40448. Checks should be made payable to McKinney Elementary School and “Change Changes Things” should be in the memo line. If you have been through the volunteer training at the Student Support Center and would like to help hands-on, contact Pendleton at heather.pendleton@lincoln.kyschools.us or (606) 346-4741 to set up a time to volunteer.