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YOUNGSTERS' FUND-RAISING SHOWS THEY'VE LEARNED LESSONS OF THE HEART

The 520 pupils in first, second and third grades at Lackawanna's Truman Elementary School got some practical math lessons when the money started pouring in to help victims of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

They have collected $3,077 for the American Red Cross in denominations ranging from a penny to $20 bills.

They also separated the coins and rolled them.

"They learned a lot about math," said third-grade teacher Kim Pulinski.

Teachers provided a clear plastic tub and invited everyone to give pennies.

The children responded, not just with pennies but with other coins and dollars in hands, pockets and big paper bags. Some turned up with glass jars full of change, along with the occasional golf tee and stray nail.

Roxanne Rose Dicus, 6, collected cash in a bucket from neighbors.

Vincent P. Luka, 7, found a treasury in the cellar, lost from pockets in the clothes dryer and piled up on top. Then he talked to his father, Vincent E. Luka.

"I had a big bag of money from my dad," he said.

Others donated their earnings. Sean Dechent picked up $1 by vacuuming. Armin Mustedanadic cleaned the basement for his dollar. Victoria Ortega baby-sat for a friend, earning $2, and helped her mother with the laundry, for another 25 cents. They are all 8.

Kuthar Mohamed, also 8, brought in $2 from her mother and $1.50 of her own. "I save money," Kuthar said.

The children could see their money filling up the large tub. When the tub started to bulge, they emptied it.

First-graders Ali Berman, Lillian Inglut and Zachary Wrazen turned from money collectors to sorters. They couldn't count the money, but they could make separate piles of pennies, nickels, dimes and quarters.

The older children rolled the money, their first $2,000. The teachers decided to deposit it and took it to a bank with a police escort provided by Officer Richard Zybert of the DARE program.

"The poor lady at the bank when we walked in with all that rolled money!" said Angela McCaffrey, second-grade teacher. "She was very nice, though."

The children continued to bring in more money, the coins settling to the bottom of the tub and the bills piling up on top. With more than $1,000 in new cash, they started to sort and roll again.

All of Lackawanna's public school first-, second- and third-graders go to Truman School.

e-mail: mhammersley@buffnews.com

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