The students at St. Amelia School in the Town of Tonawanda are trying to make a little change go a long way.
Their "Save Your Favorite State" quarter-collection drive is part of the Catholic Charities 2010 Appeal, an annual campaign to raise funds for programs and services provided by the organization.
During Monday's kickoff of Appeal Week, held at the school, kindergarten through eighth-grade students updated the progress of their fundraising effort.
Each homeroom picked its favorite state, and for three weeks, the students collect quarters for the state they adopted, explained Gabrielle Guzda, a fifth-grader at St. Amelia. The effort started two weeks ago, with the final week coinciding with Appeal Week.
"I [donated] a good amount. I think it helped my class," Gabrielle said.
Students can raise the money by donating their extra change. Or they can give up after-school snacks and recreational activities on the weekend, said her classmate, Nicholas DiNardo.
The students raised $2,507 the first two weeks -- about $1,000 short of their goal of $3,500 with one week left. The money will help Catholic Charities as it tries to raise $10.5 million by June 30. So far, the charity has raised $6.02 million -- about 57 percent of the goal -- Bishop Edward Kmiec announced Monday at the school.
The class that raises the most quarters wins a trip to Dairy Queen and a day off from school. So far, the winning state is Florida, which is slightly ahead of Massachusetts and New Jersey.
"I think we have a good chance," said Nicholas.
DiNardo and Guzda are in the class that adopted Massachusetts.
The states with the lowest showings are Vermont, Nevada and Maryland. New York is in the middle of the pack.
The opportunity to help others is one benefit of the quarter race, said Jim Mule, principal at the school for the past 15 years.
The quarter-race program also has been incorporated into the school's math, social studies and history curriculums, he said. Students learn about the states they adopted and use math skills to collect and interpret data.
A second update on how much money has been raised for Appeal 2010 and from the "Save Your Favorite State" program will be announced next Monday.
For more information on Appeal 2010 or to make a donation, contact Catholic Charities by calling 218-1400 or go to www.ccwny.org.